The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, will today announce in a keynote speech in Forest Hill that he is asking TfL to consult on expanding the Ultra Low Emission Zone London-wide in 2023, whilst ruling out the Clean Air Charge and the Greater London Boundary Charge.
The greatest number of deaths attributable to air pollution in London’s outer boroughs, which the ULEZ doesn’t currently cover. There has also been a slower rate of improvement in air quality in outer London than in central and inner London.
New analysis by City Hall published last month also showed that despite recent improvements in air quality, every hospital, medical centre and care home across the capital is located in areas that breach the new updated World Health Organization’s guidelines for nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter. Over 500,000 people in London boroughs suffer from asthma and are vulnerable to the impacts of toxic air.
This week, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report that warned there is only a brief and rapidly closing window to tackle the climate crisis, with a warning of the dire consequences of inaction.
The Mayor will say in his speech that the long-term and fairest solution to these challenges will ultimately be smart road user charging. This would enable all existing road user charges, such as the Congestion Charge and ULEZ, to be scrapped and replaced with a smarter, simpler and fair scheme that charges motorists on a per mile basis. This could allow for different rates to be charged depending on how polluting vehicles are, the level of congestion in the area and access to public transport.
Sadiq Khan has asked TfL to start exploring how this concept could be developed, however TfL is still many years away from being ready to implement such a scheme. Given the urgency of the climate crisis and the damaging impact of toxic air pollution, the Mayor believes bold action must be taken now.
The Mayor has said that his preferred option was to extend the Ultra Low Emission Zone London-wide to the London LEZ boundary in 2023, subject to a public and stakeholder consultation.
He has ruled out both the Clean Air Charge and the Greater London Boundary Charge as options.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “The triple challenges of tackling toxic air pollution, the climate emergency and congestion mean we need to further reduce emissions from vehicles in London. We simply don’t have time to waste. The climate emergency means we only have a small window of opportunity left to reduce carbon emissions to help save the planet. And despite the world-leading progress we have made over the last few years, there is still far too much toxic air pollution permanently damaging the lungs of young Londoners and leading to thousands of deaths every year, with the greatest number of deaths attributable to air pollution in outer London boroughs.
“This is also a matter of social justice – with air pollution hitting the poorest communities the hardest. Nearly half of Londoners don’t own a car, but they are disproportionally feeling the damaging consequences polluting vehicles are causing.
“If no additional action is taken to reduce air pollution beyond the existing polices, around 550,000 Londoners would develop diseases attributable to air pollution over the next 30 years and the cumulative cost to the NHS and the social care system is estimated to be £10.4 billion.
Subject to impact assessments, consultation and decision making processes, the proposed London-wide ULEZ scheme could be implemented in 2023.
Responding to the Mayor’s announcement Nick Bowes, chief executive at the Centre for London think tank, said: “Today’s announcement is another step forward for cleaner air in the city. To make it fair for all Londoners, it needs to be accompanied by measures to improve public transport in outer London and help the least well off who’ll be hit the hardest.
“However this must only be a short-term stepping stone to a smarter pay per mile road user charging scheme, something Centre for London has advocated for a number of years. This will be the truly transformational change that will be able to tackle congestion, promote active travel, clean up the city’s air and provide funding for TfL to invest in public transport.”
Michael Lloyd, of the Federation of Small Businesses, argued this afternoon that the plans were a “great cause for concern”, stressing that while firms “want to do the right thing by the environment” many “simply cannot afford” to acquire Ulez-compliant models to replace current vehicles.