London’s ULEZ expansion plans cause more political upset

ULEZ road sign

The ULEZ is set to expand in August 2023

The ULEZ (Ultra-Low Emission Zone) expansion is planned for 29th August 2023, and will cover all 33 of the London boroughs, rather than just the city itself. These plans are continuing to cause political unrest due to the cost of living crisis, however there’s no signs of a halt to the proposal.

Why is ULEZ expanding?

The ULEZ is designed to help make the air in London cleaner by charging a congestion fee of £12.50 per day for cars that don’t meet the current standards. However, the greatest number of air pollution related deaths are now occurring outside the city area, which prompted the move to expand the zone.

If the expansion goes ahead, the consequeces will include the likes of Kingston-upon-Thames being added to the list of places with conjestion charges.

Oliver Lord, Head of Strategy for the Clean Cities campaign, points out that roadside air pollution monitors in Kingston have been showing illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide for over a decade. One in particular, next to a school, reads at 43 micrograms per cubic metre, which is four times over the guideline set by the World Health Organisation.

Elevated levels of nitrogen dioxide can cause severe damage to the respiratory system and increase the severity of asthma and infections. Long-term exposure can also cause lung disease. High levels of nitrogen dioxide also have an adverse effect on plants and other vegetation.

Who’s opposing?

While it’s mostly Conservatives who are opposing the expansion – one of the most notable opposed politicians being Jacob Rees-Mogg – tradespeople like builders and plumbers as well as many employed in the hospitality industry are also against the expansion.

Financial Expert, Martin Lewis, said ‘the reasons are good, but the timing is pretty tough’, bringing to question the idea of delaying the ULEZ expansion until the country is more financially stable.

To help with the potential cost implications, The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, earlier launched a ‘scrappage scheme’ for low-income drivers which would allow them to exchange their non-compliant cars for new, more environmentally friendly vehicles, with a sum of money to put toward a new vehicle.

Unfortunately, the Conservative party have rejected Khan’s request to top up the scrappage fund in an effort to stop the ULEZ expansion from going through, as well as making a political statement agains the mayor, who is a member of the Labour party.

Sadiq Khan seems undeterred by the opposition he faces though, and has no plans of agreeing to plans to stop the expansion, saying ‘if its good enough for those in central London, why isn’t it good enough for those in outer London? Clean air is a human right, not a privilege.’

Find out more about Clean Air Zones across the UK

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