A major expansion of London’s ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) to tackle dangerous levels of air pollution has been announced by the capital’s mayor.
Tougher emissions standards are expected to affect tens of thousands of high-polluting vehicles every day when the city’s first ULEZ is implemented in central London next April.
Now, under strict new plans set out by Sadiq Khan, the zone will cover an area 18 times larger than the original one when new rules come into force in October 2021.
Drivers in the expanded zone – which will stretch up to the North and South Circular roads – travelling in non-compliant vehicles will have to pay a daily charge of £12.50.
It will operate on top of the congestion charge, and will be in effect 24 hours a day throughout the year.
It is estimated that 100,000 cars, 35,000 vans and 3,000 lorries will be affected by the expanded zone and new standards every day.
“Tackling London’s lethal air and safeguarding the health of Londoners requires bold action,” said Mr Khan. “An expanded ultra-low emission zone, in conjunction with the Central London ULEZ, will really help transform the air that millions of Londoners breathe.”
The mayor also announced intentions to tighten the standards for the most polluting heavy vehicles including buses, coaches and lorries across the whole of London from October 2020.
The news has been welcomed by environmental campaigners, who described the new plans as “cause for a celebration”.
Expanding the ULEZ beyond Central London in combination with the new standards for heavy vehicles across the capital is expected to reduce pollution to the extent that 100,000 Londoners will no longer live in areas exceeding legal air quality limits by 2021.
The announcements follow new research from scientists at the universities of Oxford and Bath showing each car in London costs the NHS and society £8,000 due to air pollution over the course of its lifetime.
Air pollution is linked with a range of health conditions including lung cancer and cardiovascular disease. Levels in the capital have consistently breached legal levels for years.
On top of the new measures, a major new study launched by the mayor will test how policies like the ULEZ affect children’s respiratory health by comparing children from London schools with those from neighbouring Luton whose schools are in traffic-restricted zones.
All the children will have their lung health monitored over a four-year period in the study, which is being led by Queen Mary University.
Environmental lawyers ClientEarth have won legal challenges against the government three times over inadequate efforts to reduce illegal levels of harmful nitrogen dioxide.
Reacting to the announcement, ClientEarth CEO James Thornton said: “This is a welcome announcement from the mayor, who has shown he is prepared to take steps to protect Londoners’ health from the city’s toxic air. Political leaders across the UK should take note.”
“The arrival of the world’s first and biggest ULEZ in London is cause for a celebration,” said Paul Morozzo, clean air campaigner at Greenpeace. Thousands of Londoners contributed to consultations to make this a reality and it will have a major impact on air quality in the city, improving the lives of millions of people.
“London has moved into the fast lane when it comes to tackling harmful air pollution, and now central government and the car industry must change up a gear and show they can match Sadiq Khan’s ambition.”
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