London’s ultra-low emission zone comes into force

Drivers of older, more polluting cars will have to pay a daily charge of £12.50 to enter Central London’s new ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ), which came into force today.

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The ULEZ will operate in the same area as the current congestion charge zone for 24 hours every day, although drivers will still be subject to the congestion charge too.

It is hoped that the zone will help tackle London’s illegal air pollution levels, which are linked to thousands of premature deaths every year, as well as £3.7bn in economic costs.

Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “This is a landmark day for our city. Our toxic air is an invisible killer responsible for one of the biggest national health emergencies of our generation.

“The ULEZ is the centrepiece of our plans to clean up London’s air – the boldest plans of any city on the planet, and the eyes of the world are on us.”

The London Assembly said there has been a 55% increase in the proportion of compliant vehicles in the congestion charge zone since the “stepping stone” T-Charge was introduced in 2017.

And Transport for London’s online vehicle checker has been used more that 3.2 million times in the last nine months, with non-compliant lorries, buses and coaches now facing a daily £100 charge.

This comes after King’s College London found that the capital’s air quality would not be compliant with legal limits for another 193 years without tough new standards.

However, with the Mayor’s air pollution measures, which include upgrades to all buses in the ULEZ, the research indicates that air quality will reach legal limits in six years.

The number of schools exceeding the legal limit for NO2 is expected to fall from over 450 in 2016 to five in 2020 and zero in 2025.

Professor Jonathan Grigg of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: “Approximately 50% of air pollution comes from road transport and 45% comes from diesel, so the introduction of the ULEZ is extremely welcome.

“Coupled with this move, we need to see employers and schools encouraging and facilitating better use of public transport and active travel options like walking and cycling.”

 

Image credit: Shutterstock

Author: 

Chris Seekings is a reporter for TRANSFORM

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