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A Labour assembly member has suggested that people in outer London could buy a ULEZ-compliant car for £3,000 if they are concerned about paying the daily charge.
Following the rollout of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone expansion last October, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan earlier this year launched a public consultation over plans to expand the ULEZ further to cover the whole of Greater London by August 2023.
The issue was raised at a Mayor’s Question Time session at City Hall on Thursday by Conservative Assembly Member Neil Garratt.
Mr Garratt said that he had been contacted by “lots of residents” in his constituency of Sutton and Croydon who are concerned about the financial implications of further expanding the ULEZ.
Drivers of cars that do not meet minimum emission standards must pay a daily charge of £12.50 to drive into the Ultra-Low Emission Zone.
Mr Garratt said: “[Residents] are worried about what that expansion would mean because they can’t afford to pay £12.50 a day to use their car, they can’t afford to replace their car with a car that doesn’t incur that charge, and they can’t get to work or do their daily journeys any other way.”
In response to Mr Garratt, Mr Khan said he would encourage those with concerns to respond to TfL’s public consultation on the plans and added that it was important to have a scrappage scheme in place “to support those who have a polluting vehicle”.
But following on from the question, Labour Assembly Member Leonie Cooper suggested that it was not “impossible” for outer London residents to buy a used ULEZ-compliant car for around £3,000.
Ms Cooper said: “If you do the calculation of £12.50 a day, five days a week, let’s say 46 weeks a year so six weeks of holiday – that works out as a payment of £2,875. If you look in… trader magazines where you can go and look for second-hand vehicles that would comply with the current level of the ULEZ that are widely available at £2,875 or thereabouts.”
I've just asked the Mayor what he suggests people in Croydon and Sutton do if they can't afford his £12.50 daily ULEZ charge, can't afford a new car, and can't get to work by public transport.
Labour's response was that it's "only" about £3k for a compliant car - just buy one.
— Neil Garratt AM (@NeilGarratt) June 23, 2022
Asked to clarify her comments, Ms Cooper told the Standard: “All Londoners, especially our children, deserve protection from toxic air which contributes to thousands of premature deaths each year and serious diseases. We need to remember that the vast majority of vehicles will not be impacted by the ULEZ charge when it expands to cover the whole of Greater London.
“For the minority that will be affected, I want to see proper financial support through new scrappage schemes for more Londoners to cover the costs of upgrading their vehicles.”
Sadiq Khan was criticised for a similar suggestion last year ahead of the first expansion of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone.
In an interview with the Standard in June 2021, Mr Khan said that he had sympathy for people whose vehicles did not meet minimum emissions standards, but that they could “buy a second-hand vehicle” to avoid having to pay the £12.50 levy.
Within the first month of last year’s ULEZ expansion, it was reported that 92 per cent of vehicles entering the zone were compliant with the new standards.
City Hall has estimated that expanding the zone to include outer London boroughs would remove an additional 20,000 to 40,000 polluting vehicles from London’s roads per day, reducing CO2 emissions by as much as 150,000 tonnes.
Londoners have until July 29 to respond to TfL’s public consultation on the proposed expansion.