London’s controversial ULEZ expansion

Sadiq Kahn has launched a consultation with Transport for London to expand London’s ULEZ zone from the border of the North and South Circulars to all 33 London Boroughs.

ULEZ stands for Ultra Low Emission Zone and means that non compliant vehicles will need to pay £!2.50 to enter the zone 24 hours a day 365 days a year – clearly problematic for Londoners who live in those who own a vehicle that costs that amount per day to own. This would include car, vans and motorcycles. 

Clean vehicles

Only ‘clean’ vehicles will be able to drive in Greater London without being charged the daily £12.50.

The Mayor of London’s plan is the expand the ULEZ across Greater London by the end of 2023 meaning that if you drive within the M25 with a ‘dirty’ vehicle you’ll be charged. 

TfL have spent over £130m installing the ULEZ cameras to catch ‘dirty’ vehicles across London, of which there are 750 of them! We don’t have the numbers or costs to install the cameras across Greater London.

ULEZ expansion map

You can see the planned expansion in the map below. The most inner circle in red is the congestion charge, the next blue zone is the current ULEZ zone and the green larger zone with the black outline is the new planned ULEZ expansion – it’s pretty dramatic compared to where the ULEZ is now…

ULEZ expansion map

Dirty vehicles

The ULEZ scheme currently means that petrol cars that are older than 16 years and diesel cars older than seven years are classed as ‘dirty’ and subject to the charge. 

Drivers of these vehicles who enter the zone and don’t pay the £12.50 will face a fine of £160! 

Drivers heading into central London will also face the congestion charge of £15 meaning that if you have to travel into central London without a ULEZ complaint vehicle, you could be hit with a daily charge of £27.50, clearly unworkable for many who have to make the journey regularly.

You can check to see if your vehicle is effected by the ULEZ expansion on the TfL site here.

Public backlash

The plans have faced a backlash from the public who are challenging introducing this cost to people in a cost of living crisis. 

Especially as the poorest inhabitants of London are the ones who will face the charges due to owning older cars and not being able to afford news, or even still being locked into finance for cars that aren’t compliant. Whereas the more well off own the newer, cleaner cars or have the income to be able to replace non compliant cars.

Kahn ‘convinced it’s justified’

Kahn said: “In weighing up the different options, the rising cost of living was a key consideration for me. Because at a time when people’s budgets are under pressure, I’m not willing to ask people to pay more unless I’m absolutely convinced it’s justified to save lives and protect the health of Londoners.”

 Kahn has also stated that the air pollution problem in London hits the poorest communities the hardest, with nearly half of Londoners not owning a car, but being heavily damaged by vehicle pollution. 

He has also pledged to instate a generous scrappage scheme to low income Londoners with the so called dirty vehicles. The initial £61m scrappage scheme was ‘scrapped’ early after oversubscription!

Chief exec of Asthma + Lung UK, Sarah Woolnough stated: “This is a landmark moment in protecting the lives and lungs of all Londoners. We want to see this scheme put into action.”

It all got a little political with GLA Conservatives transport spokesmen, Keith Prince claiming: “I welcome plans to improve London’s air quality. Unfortunately this scheme is all about the mayor raising money to cover up his financial mismanagement of TfL over the last six years.”

Petition to stop the expansion

There has been a petition against the expansion on Change.org saying it is simply not acceptable, called ‘Stop Sadiq Kahn expanding the ULEZ to all the London borough (sic) 2023’.

Are ebikes the answer to the ULEZ expansion in London?

Could purchasing an ebike be the solution for Londoners who don’t want to pay a daily £12.50 ULEZ charge? We think they could be, if you have a commute under a two or three miles, then purchasing a good quality ebike could be the answer. 

It obviously wouldn’t work for people who need to carry lots of tools or other items, but there are even cargo ebikes for those who need to carry a small number of things for work if it’s too much for a backpack.

We think they’ll be an increase in ebike use for Londoners over the next few years, especially as the climate crisis grows in prominence, ebike technology improves and London moves away from the use of petrol and diesel vehicles.

Check out all of our ebike guides…