Wider Ulez ‘will remove 44,000 polluting cars from London’, Sadiq Khan claims

 (Jeremy Selwyn)
(Jeremy Selwyn)

An estimated 44,000 of the most polluting cars will be taken off the road if the ultra-low emission zone is expanded across Greater London, Sadiq Khan has predicted.

A further 70,000 vehicles would be replaced with “greener” models by drivers wanting to avoid the £12.50-a-day emissions levy, he said.

There would also be an overall five per cent fall in traffic levels in the capital, a London Assembly inquiry into the Ulez was told on Thursday afternoon.

Transport for London has updated its expected impact of expanding the levy from the inner boundaries of the North and South Circular roads to the Greater London boundary.

Mr Khan is due to decide in the “next few weeks” whether to press ahead with the expansion on August 29 next year or bow to demands to delay or axe the plans because of the cost-of-living crisis.

TfL had previously predicted that the so-called “GL-Ulez” would take an estimated 20,000 to 40,000 polluting vehicles off the road.

Mr Khan said that, on the “hypothetical basis” he gave the go-ahead, 70,000 more vehicles would comply with the Ulez rules and there would be 44,000 fewer non-compliant vehicles in the capital by the end of 2023.

But 46,000 vehicles that did not meet the emission rules would still be registered in London — meaning their owners would have to pay the 24/7 levy on day they drove.

Mr Khan said: “We do expect to see a reduction in vehicles. We do expect to see a reduction in diesel vehicles and we do expect to see a reduction in non-compliant vehicles as well.”

The Mayor wants to expand the Ulez to tackle the “triple challenges” of toxic air, the climate emergency and traffic congestion.

But his Tory critics say it will hurt low-income Londoners and small businesses — especially at a time no funds have been allocated for a scrappage scheme to help motorists upgrade their vehicles to avoid the levy.

A £61 million scrappage scheme set up for the North/South Circular expansion in October 2021 enabled 15,228 vehicles to be scrapped but was three times oversubscribed. Low-income and disabled Londoners were offered £2,000 to scrap a non-compliant car or £1,000 for a motorbike.

A third of those who received a pay-out chose not to buy a replacement vehicle, and more than one in five said their household was now car-free, City Hall said on Friday.

Mr Khan has previously suggested a £180 million scrappage scheme would be needed if the GL-Ulez is implemented, a figure also used in a question to the mayor, and has appealed for Government help to fund a second scrappage scheme.

But mayoral aides said on Friday that a scrappage scheme of at least £60m was now more realistic, due to the reduction in the number of non-compliant vehicles since the Ulez was widened to the North/South Circulars.