Van drivers face vehicle shortage ahead of Ulez expansion – analysis

Thousands of tradespeople face the prospect of huge bills following Sadiq Khan’s expansion of London’s ultra low emission zone (Ulez) because of a lack of compliant vans for sale, according to new analysis.

The zone will be expanded to cover the whole of the capital from August 29 to boost air quality, with a £12.50 daily fee for vehicles not meeting minimum standards.

A report commissioned by Transport for London estimated that 30,000 non-compliant vans currently use the Ulez expansion area each day.

But figures from Auto Trader – which says it is used by around 80% of UK vehicle retailers – show there are just 5,181 vans for sale across London and south-east England on its online marketplace.

Its total for the whole of the UK is 23,803.

To avoid the Ulez fee, diesel vehicles – which make up the vast majority of vans – must be Euro 6 standard, which generally covers those registered from 2016.

A tradesperson entering the zone in an older van every working day will rack up more than £3,100 a year in charges.

Drivers who fail to pay face a £160 penalty each day, which is halved if paid within a fortnight.

The average price of a diesel van which meets the emissions standards is £23,972 on Auto Trader.

That is £6,500 more than for a non-compliant van.

An Auto Trader spokesman told the PA news agency: “This will be a real worry for thousands of van drivers already struggling to cope with high inflation.

“The number of Ulez compliant vans for sale in London and the South East is just a fraction of the estimated 30,000 vans affected, leaving the majority facing the prospect of paying thousands of pounds extra to get to work.”

The Ulez is currently limited to the area within the North and South Circular roads.

A spokesman for Mr Khan said: “The mayor has been clear that the decision to expand the Ultra Low Emission Zone London-wide was one of the hardest he’s had to make, but with around 4,000 Londoners still dying from toxic air it was a necessary one.

“Eighty-five per cent of vehicles in outer London are already Ulez compliant.

“For those that aren’t, the mayor has announced the biggest scrappage scheme yet – £110 million – to help micro businesses and Londoners who need it most amid the cost of living crisis, including low income and disabled Londoners.”

Rishi Sunak last week urged the mayor to “properly reconsider” Ulex expansion after thousands of people expressed their opposition through responses to a consultation.

At Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Sunak said: “It is disappointing that the mayor, backed by the Leader of the Opposition (Sir Keir Starmer), is choosing not to listen to the public, expanding the zone against the overwhelming views of residents and business.

“I urge the mayor to properly reconsider and respond to these serious concerns.”