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London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone expansion could price drivers off the road

Nick Cheek
Written By:
Nick Cheek

Drivers fear they will be priced out of driving around London and will be cornered in their local areas due to the expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) to the whole of the capital from 29 August, according to research from a motoring organisation.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan is adamant that the extension is needed due to the environmental impact of traffic in the capital. However, research compiled by the AA has found that drivers are fearful that using  roads will become too expensive due to the proposed £12.50 daily charge. The charge is applicable to those who have vehicles that do not meet the emission standards required.

Up to 300,000 London residents anticipate being effected by the new expansion, with most unable to afford to buy a new car that complies with emission benchmarks. Many of those in this category were identified by the ULEZ Impact Assessment commissioned by Transport for London as living in deprived areas.

It was revealed in the same assessment that large areas of outer London has poor access to public transport. Nearly two in every five drivers in London agreed that being forced to abandon their cars due to the increase in costs would leave them marooned in their local areas.

A further 44% said that the new proposals would be highly obstructive to family life, with 23% saying they would have to move to another area that was less restrictive. Working lives would also be disrupted as 17% felt they would be compelled to find a new job. Amongst the 18-24 year-old age group, the percentage who would change their current employment status rose to 57%.

The expansion of ULEZ is also viewed as a development that could be potentially bad for health, as it would make doctor or hospital appointments difficult to make. Also, if cars were to be put out of action due to ULEZ then 23% said that effectively they would be placed under a night time curfew.

Judicial review under way

A judicial review of the controversial ULEZ expansion is now under way as five Conservative party led councils in Bexley, Bromley, Harrow, Hillingdon and Surrey took legal action against the scheme. The action was taken due to the financial implications that the ULEZ expansion will bring.

Edmund King, the AA’s president said: “Everyone wants cleaner air but the AA survey among our London members shows that, for those that can’t afford to upgrade their cars and now face being priced off the road, the expanded ULEZ’s daily charges are a threat to their health, their well-being, their safety and family life.”

“The Mayor has announced an expanded scrappage scheme for private car owners but, once again, it is limited to those on benefits, not those working long hours and multiple jobs to improve their quality of life, nor the elderly who invested in cars they thought would be their last and provide the mobility for their health needs, nor those for whom cars make them feel safe when they travel, particularly at night.”