Ulez: 60,000 road users paying London charge each day

Fee to drive in clean-air zone was expanded to capital’s outer boroughs on August 29

London mayor Sadiq Khan said since the expansion of Ulez a month ago, 'we can already see it is working'. Getty Images
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About 60,000 vehicle owners are now paying the daily fee to drive in London’s expanded Ultra Low Emission Zone (Ulez), latest figures have shown.

A total of 93,700 vehicles that failed to meet the scheme’s minimum emissions standard were driven in the capital in the first month since Ulez was extended to the outer boroughs on August 29.

More than a third were exempt, leaving about 60,000 drivers liable to pay the £12.50 ($15) daily charge.

That represents about 3 per cent of vehicles driven in London each day.

London mayor Sadiq Khan said the increase in the proportion of vehicles in the expanded area that comply with the emissions standards from 85 per cent in May 2022 to 95 per cent in September would "make a huge difference".

The report revealed about 48,000 fewer vehicles a day were used in the capital between August 29 and September 30 compared with June, a 2 per cent reduction.

Mr Khan extended Ulez from within the North and South Circular roads to cover all London boroughs.

For petrol cars to meet today's emissions standards, they must generally have been registered after 2005, while most diesel cars registered after September 2015 are exempt from the charge.

Mr Khan said: "I've always said that the decision to expand the Ulez was very difficult, but a month on from the expansion we can already see that it is working.

"London is now home to the world's largest clean-air zone and this new data shows 95 per cent of vehicles seen driving in London on an average day now comply with our air quality standards – a 10 percentage-point increase since I began to consult on the Ulez expansion in May 2022.

"This will make a huge difference to the lives and health of Londoners."

Classic car owners affected by the Ulez expansion - in pictures

Transport for London's director of strategy and policy Christina Calderato said: "It's great to see that 95 per cent of the vehicles driving in the capital comply with the scheme's transformative air-quality standards.

"The Ulez is highly effective in taking the oldest, most polluting vehicles off the roads."

TfL said it initially sent warning letters to vehicle owners for non-payment but issued 13,480 fixed penalty notices (FPNs) between September 26-30.

FPNs are £180, reduced to £90 if paid within 14 days.

An anti-Ulez Facebook group with more than 40,000 members is urging people to refuse to pay, as well as celebrating vandalism of enforcement cameras.

Edmund King, president of British motoring group the AA, said: "We have said all along that targeting the most polluting vehicles will help to improve air quality.

"What we still don't know is how the expansion has affected families on low incomes who could no longer afford to run their non-compliant vehicles or purchase a newer one."

Rod Dennis, spokesman for motoring services company the RAC, said: "It's clear from just a month's data that the expanded Ulez is bringing air-quality benefits.

"But we note there were around 48,000 fewer vehicles entering the zone in September compared to June, so we have to hope these are people who have chosen to get around by other means rather than being unable to travel at all because they are stuck with a non-compliant vehicle."

TfL said it was "too early to draw firm conclusions" from the latest figures.

A scheme providing up to £2,000 for Londoners to scrap a non-compliant vehicle remains open.

What is Ulez?

Launched in 2019, Ulez is the world's first scheme that requires vehicles to comply with anti-pollution measures 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Separate from London's congestion charge, which is aimed at reducing traffic, Ulez is designed to cut air pollution in the capital by discouraging the use of high-emission vehicles by imposing a daily fee.

It aims to improve the health of Londoners by reducing the amount of particulate matter and nitrous oxide that they breathe.

In 2020, Ella Kissi-Debrah became the first person in the UK to have air pollution cited as a cause of death.

She died in 2013, aged nine, after suffering an asthma attack brought on by ingesting traffic fumes near her home in south-east London.

Updated: October 31, 2023, 1:36 PM