The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan has welcomed a new ‘one-month on’ report, released today, showing that the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) expansion has been highly effective at reducing the number of older, more polluting vehicles seen driving in London since it expanded to cover every borough of the city on 29 August 2023.
Across both inner and outer London, 95 per cent of vehicles overall seen driving in London on an average day now comply with the ULEZ emissions standards, up from 39 per cent compliance London-wide in February 2017 when the Mayor confirmed the introduction of the Toxicity Charge (T-Charge) as a stepping stone towards the ULEZ.
The number of older, more polluting non-compliant vehicles seen driving in London on an average day has decreased by 77,000 compared to June 2023- a reduction of 45 per cent.
In outer London there has been a 10 percentage point increase in compliance since the launch of the consultation to expand the ULEZ across all London boroughs. 85 per cent of vehicles seen driving in outer London on an average day were compliant at the start of the consultation in May 2022, and compliance has now increased to 95 per cent.
Outer London vehicle compliance jumped notably once the scheme was ‘turned on’ on 29 August. In June 2023 compliance across all vehicles seen driving in outer London was at 90.9 per cent. The effect of ‘turning on’ the ULEZ expansion led to a four percentage points jump in compliance, to 95.2 per cent in September 2023.
After just one month, compliance rates across all vehicle types in outer London have nearly caught up with inner London. 96.4 per cent of cars seen driving in outer London are now compliant, compared to 96.9 per cent of cars seen driving in inner London. Car compliance in outer London has increased from 90 per cent in November 2022 when the Mayor announced the decision to expand the ULEZ London-wide, and 44 per cent in 2017.
The newly expanded ULEZ is one of the world’s most ambitious efforts to combat urban air pollution. Measuring 1,500km and covering the whole capital with a population of over nine million people, it is the largest urban anti-pollution zone of its kind on Earth. The highly targeted scheme is designed to take the most polluting vehicles off London’s roads, helping nine million people to breathe cleaner air.
Road traffic is the primary source of air pollution in London, which experts say is the single greatest environmental threat to public health.
Toxic air is leading to children growing up with stunted lungs, and is associated with an increased risk of asthma, heart and lung disease, cancer and dementia and around 4,000 premature deaths every year in London. The impact of air pollution is also profoundly unequal, hitting London’s poorest and Black, Asian, and minority ethnic communities the hardest.
Nitrogen oxides emissions from cars are expected to decrease by 10 per cent by the end of 2023 because of the ULEZ expansion, helping to make London a greener, fairer, and healthier city. The impact of the ULEZ expansion on both emissions and pollutant concentrations will be reported in 2024.
A major public awareness campaign has been underway since January 2023 to prepare individuals, charities, and businesses for the London-wide ULEZ expansion. Transport for London (TfL)’s online vehicle checker webpage has been visited more than 20.5 million times since the Mayor announced the decision to expand the ULEZ in November 2022. Over one million letters were sent to owners of non-compliant vehicles driving inside the zone ahead of the expansion.
The Mayor has also funded a £160 million scrappage and retrofit scheme to help Londoners, small businesses and charities switch to cleaner, greener modes of transport—the largest programme of its kind in the UK.
This is in addition to an expanded set of temporary exemptions (“grace periods”) for those who live inside and outside of London to support disabled people, community transport minibuses and businesses and charities with brand-new compliant vehicles or retrofit solutions on order. This is despite London and those outside London receiving no help from the national government, unlike every other clean air scheme in the country.
In August 2023, TfL expanded the eligibility of the scrappage scheme, meaning all Londoners can now apply for up to £2,000 to scrap a car or up to £1,000 to scrap a motorcycle, with millions of pounds of support still available. Small businesses and charities are eligible to receive increased grant payments of between £6,000 and £11,500.
Data revealed today that the scrappage scheme has resulted in over £121 million in funds committed to date to help London residents, small businesses and charities to transition to greener alternatives, including more than £49 million to scrap cars and motorcycles and more than £72 million to scrap vans and minibuses.
More than 37,200 Londoners and London businesses and charities have had their applications for scrappage grants for the outer London expansion approved to date to remove older, more polluting vehicles from London’s roads, with thousands of new applications being received and processed each week.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “I’ve always said that the decision to expand the ULEZ was very difficult, but a month on from the expansion we can already see that it is working.
“London is now home to the world’s largest clean air zone and this new data shows 95 per cent of vehicles seen driving in London on an average day now comply with our air quality standards – a 10 percentage point increase since I began to consult on the ULEZ expansion in May 2022. This will make a huge difference to the lives and health of Londoners.
“More than 19 in 20 vehicles on London’s roads are now compliant and do not need to pay the daily ULEZ charge. For the remaining Londoners still driving non-compliant vehicles, millions of pounds of scrappage scheme support is still available. Take-up has been incredible, with 37,256 grants approved for Londoners to date for the outer London expansion alone, and I encourage anyone affected by the ULEZ to apply today for support.
“This data is a testament to the huge progress we’ve made in tackling toxic air pollution since I was first elected in 2016. Londoners are experiencing a greener, cleaner, and healthier city.
“I am determined to do all I can to ensure that Londoners now and the next generation can grow up breathing cleaner air, wherever they live in the capital.”