Thousands more Londoners will be able to swap polluting vehicles for greener alternatives

Thousands more Londoners will be able to swap their polluting vehicles for greener alternatives, the London mayor has announced.

Sadiq Khan has expanded the Ultra Low Emission Zone (Ulez) scrappage scheme to cover families receiving child benefits and small businesses across the capital from the end of July.

Business with fewer than 50 employees can now apply to scrap, retrofit or replace vehicles, not just those with up to 10 staff.

The move also means 874,710 London families receiving child benefits can apply for a new vehicle.

London charities can scrap or retrofit up to three vans or minibuses, instead of one, under the new rules.

Ulez expansion
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan announced a major expansion to his 110m ultra low emission zone (Ulez) scrappage scheme (Aaron Chown/PA)

The mayor plans to expand the Ulez zone to cover the whole of London on August 29.

The scheme to “help clear up London’s air” currently covers all areas within the North and South Circular Roads and drivers must pay a £12.50 daily fee to drive inside the zone if their vehicles do not meet required emissions standards.

If the expansion goes ahead, drivers in outer London will also have to pay the charge and the new Ulez borders will reach Buckinghamshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent and Surrey.

But in April, a High Court judge decided five Conservative-led councils could challenge the plan.

Nine out of 10 cars, and around eight out of 10 vans seen driving in the zone on an average day are already compliant, according to the mayor.

Applicants with a wheelchair-accessible car or van can get up to £5,000, while drivers of a standard car can receive up to £2,000 to scrap their vehicle. Motorcycle riders can also receive up to £1,000 for scrapping their bike.

Charities, traders and businesses can apply for larger grants to scrap, retrofit or replace a van or minibus.

The £110 million scrappage scheme, run by Transport for London (TfL), was launched in January to support London-based small businesses, traders and charities replace polluting vehicles.

Sadiq Khan said he understands Londoners’ concerns about transitioning to a new, compliant vehicle.

He said: “We already have the biggest-ever scrappage scheme in place to support Londoners on low incomes, London-based micro-businesses and charities and disabled Londoners.

“But I’ve listened to families and small businesses in outer London who want more support and I’m pleased to be able to announce today a major expansion to the scheme run by TfL to ensure we can help them.”

The mayor added: “Expanding the Ulez was an incredibly difficult decision for me. But with toxic air damaging the health of millions of Londoners and the need to tackle the climate crisis, I believe the cost of inaction would simply be far too high a price to pay.

“The Ulez has been proven to work, already reducing toxic air pollution by nearly half in central London.

“Expanding it London-wide will help ensure five million more Londoners can breathe cleaner air and our bigger scrappage scheme will mean we can help thousands of families and small businesses make the transition to greener, cleaner vehicles.”