Sadiq Khan has pressed ahead with his decision to expand the ultra-low emission zone London-wide from next August.
The ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) is aimed at cleaning London’s air, forcing vehicles that don’t conform to the environmental standards to pay a daily £12.50 to enter. It will also help relieve congestion in the capital.
The ULEZ currently encompasses the North and South Circular roads after an expansion in October 2021.
Following the mayor’s decision, the zone will operate across all London boroughs.
Despite being one of the toughest decisions of his political career, the mayor said that expanding the ULEZ “will mean five million more people will be able to breathe cleaner air and live healthier lives.”
“The latest evidence shows that air pollution is making us sick from cradle to grave,” Khan said. “Londoners are developing life-changing illnesses, such as cancer, lung disease, dementia and asthma.”
Khan also announced the introduction of a £110m scrappage scheme to encourage vulnerable Londoners and those with lower incomes to scrap their older and more polluting vehicles.
To help people amidst rising costs of living, the mayor set out the biggest expansion of the buses in the history of Outer London, which will lead to the capital’s bus network increasing by one million kilometres.
“Expanding the ULEZ London-wide has not been an easy decision,” Khan commented.
“The easy thing for me would have been to kick the can down the road. But in the end, public health comes before political expediency.”
Commenting on the announcement, London Tories called on the mayor to scrap the decision as it will deal a significant blow to thousands of Londoners.
“Residents have made their views very clear to the Mayor: they do not want the ULEZ expansion,” Nick Rogers, transport spokesperson of the Greater London Authority’s (GLA) Conservatives said.
“The mayor must listen to them, scrap these plans and use the £250m saved on real measures that tackle air pollution.”
The decision has been at the centre of controversies for some time now, as a recent poll commissioned by the GLA Conservatives claimed that a majority of Londoners were against the expansion.
London Tories also said the poll’s results aligned with the reports of consultation responses against the measure, which were leaked to the Telegraph in early October.
City Hall has slammed the poll’s questions as misleading and unfair, deeming them “not worth the paper they are written on.”
“What the consultation wasn’t – and I was clear about that at the time and have been clear during it – is a referendum,” Khan has also told journalists.
“We’ve seen the consequences of weak leadership and referendums being a decision maker.”