Last week the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, set a target for London to be net zero carbon by 2030 which includes another expansion to the ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ).

It comes as a new report, published on January 18 by Element Energy and commissioned by the Mayor of London, sets out the action required to move London towards net-zero carbon emissions by 2030. In order to reduce transport emissions to clean up London’s air, the capital will have to see a significant shift away from petrol and diesel vehicle use and towards walking and cycling, greater public transport use and cleaner vehicles. At the moment, just 2% of vehicles on the roads in London are electric.

The expansion of the ULEZ is to include Greater London and could help cut emissions further. This would build on the existing scheme by extending it and adding a small clean air charge for all but the cleanest vehicles. Different rates would be levied, depending on how polluting vehicles are, the level of congestion in the area and access to public transport. Subject to consultation, the scheme would also bring exemptions and discounts for those on low incomes and with disabilities, as well as consideration around support for charities and small businesses.

The potential approaches under consideration in the short term are:

  •  Extending the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) beyond the north and south circular roads to cover the whole of Greater London, using the current charge level and emissions standards.
  • Modifying the ULEZ to make it even more impactful by extending it to cover the whole of Greater London and adding a small clean air charge for all but the cleanest vehicles.
  • Introducing a clean air charge: a low-level daily charge across all of Greater London for all but the cleanest vehicles. 
  • Introducing a Greater London boundary charge, which would charge a small fee to non-London registered vehicles entering Greater London, responding to the increase in cars from outside London travelling into the city seen in recent years.

Transport for London (TfL) says it will launch a public consultation on the short-term options, speaking to local government and businesses about the way forward and subject to this consultation, the chosen scheme would be implemented by May 2024.

The ULEZ currently covers an area up to, but not including, the North Circular Road (A406) and South Circular Road (A205). It was expanded in the autumn and is now 18 times larger than the original central London ULEZ, which had occupied the same area as the congestion charge zone.

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