Official case for extending ULEZ

Five million more Londoners to breathe cleaner air as Ultra Low Emission Zone will be expanded London-wide (source)

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has today announced that he will expand the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) London-wide to tackle the triple threats of air pollution, the climate emergency and congestion, and to ensure five million more Londoners can breathe cleaner air. The expansion will come into effect on Tuesday 29 August 2023 and will operate across all London boroughs up to the existing Low Emission Zone boundary.  

Toxic air pollution is a matter of life and death – with around 4,000 Londoners dying prematurely each year, children growing up with stunted lungs and a higher risk of dementia in older people. More than 500,000 Londoners live with asthma and are more vulnerable to the impacts of toxic air, with more than half of these people living in outer London boroughs.  

The ULEZ has already been hugely successful in central and inner London, helping to reduce roadside pollution levels by 44 per cent in central London and 20 per cent in inner London.[1] The Mayor believes that all Londoners have the right to breathe clean air.   

Sadiq is doing all he can to support Londoners through the cost-of-living crisis, which is why the expansion will be accompanied by a brand new £110m scrappage scheme to support Londoners on lower incomes, disabled Londoners, charities and small businesses and sole traders. The Mayor listened to feedback from these communities during the consultation process, including from disabled people and the organisations that represent them to create a scheme to best support them. Successful scrappage applicants will receive a grant to scrap or – for the first time – retrofit their vehicle for certain vans and minibuses. Successful car owners can opt to receive a smaller grant accompanied by up to two free annual bus and tram passes, which would give them a higher financial package. 

The Mayor also announced new measures to support disabled people, including extending the existing exemption periods for London’s disabled drivers and community transport minibuses run by not-for-profit organisations to October 2027 and October 2025 respectively, and introducing new exemption periods for disabled drivers and wheelchair accessible vehicles. This will mean that over a quarter of a million disabled Londoners could be eligible for the new exemption periods, including those who automatically qualify for a Blue Badge. The Mayor is providing further support through scrapping the fee for drivers to sign up to Auto-Pay for the ULEZ and Congestion Charge.   

To maximise the potential benefits of expanding the ULEZ and strengthen alternatives to private cars, the Mayor today also announced a plan for improving the bus network in outer London. Two new routes will be introduced in Sutton, with improved service to the new Cancer Hub at the Royal Marsden Hospital. In east London, new zero-emission cross-river services will be introduced, subject to consultation. This includes a new high-frequency, limited stop service between Grove Park and Canary Wharf, and an extension to route 129 (Lewisham – North Greenwich) north across the river to Great Eastern Quay via the Royal Docks.  

New services and improvements, that will see over one million further kilometres added to the bus network, are also planned to support growth areas in a number of other outer London location. This is part of the biggest ever expansion of the bus network in outer London. Examples include:   

  • Improved links between Harold Hill and Upminster in Havering  
  • New and improved services at Brent Cross in Barnet  
  • Improved services in Southall  
  • Bus improvements in the Harrow & Wealdstone area  
  • New routes to serve the Haringey Heartlands development at Wood Green  
  • Better bus links in Wanstead, including to and from Whipps Cross Hospital   

Expanding the ULEZ London-wide will strike the best balance between maximising the health and environmental benefits for Londoners while minimising the cost to drivers. Toxic air caused by road traffic is still leading to thousands of deaths a year, and the greatest number of deaths attributable to air pollution are in London’s outer boroughs, which the ULEZ doesn’t currently cover.[2]   

Expanding ULEZ London-wide will save 27,000 tonnes of CO2 in outer London, nearly double that which the central London ULEZ achieved in its first year of operation. Amongst other improvements, the expansion is forecast to make further progress to reduce air pollution, by reducing nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions from cars and vans in outer London by 10 and 7 percent respectively, and reducing PM2.5 car exhaust emissions in outer London by nearly 16 per cent, benefitting five million outer London residents. 

Toxic air is also an issue of social justice with the poorest Londoners and Londoners from ethnic minority backgrounds least likely to own a car but also worst affected by toxic air. Only five per cent of the lowest income Londoners own a car yet they are around 10 per cent more likely to suffer from toxic air.   

The ULEZ is a very targeted scheme to get the most polluting vehicles off the road.  Compliance within the current ULEZ area is now at 94 per cent, much higher than the 39 percent when ULEZ was first announced in 2017, and also higher than 85 per cent the month before previous expansion, and compliance in outer London is already around 85 per cent. This means that most drivers in outer London will not be impacted by the expansion London-wide.  

The evaluation survey of the Mayor’s Car and Motorcycle Scrappage Scheme shows it reduced vehicle ownership, with survey respondents also reporting a decrease in car travel and an increase in walking, cycling and public transport use. The report on the Mayor’s Scrappage Scheme shows that in addition to those who used the funds to purchase a ULEZ compliant vehicle, others used the money for greener transport options such as public transport, bikes and e-bikes and car clubs. 

In order to support those who would like to use the money from the scrappage scheme for cleaner transport options, in addition to supporting those who want to put the funds towards public transport, bikes and e-bikes and car clubs, the Mayor’s new scrappage scheme will also include the option to get up to two annual bus and tram passes, and TfL is working with businesses to agree a range of offers on sustainable transport. 

The announcement follows a public consultation which ran between May and July 2022, in which 59 per cent of respondents agreed that more needed to be done to tackle toxic air. A representative YouGov poll commissioned by City Hall also revealed nearly twice as many Londoners believe the Mayor’s proposed expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone should go ahead than oppose it.   

Sadiq announced plans for the expansion at Bonus Pastor School in Lewisham, an area with dangerously poor air quality, and spoke to students and stakeholders from across London about the dangers of toxic air and the importance of tackling it urgently.  

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “The latest evidence shows that air pollution is making us sick from cradle to the grave.  Londoners are developing life-changing illnesses, such as cancer, lung disease, dementia and asthma. And it’s especially dangerous for children due to the long-lasting impact on their health and life chances, with kids in our city growing up with stunted lungs.  

“The ULEZ so far has been transformational, reducing harmful pollution levels by almost a half in central London. But there is still far too much toxic air pollution permanently damaging the health of young Londoners and leading to thousands of early deaths every year, with the greatest number of deaths in the outer London boroughs. Expanding the ULEZ London-wide will mean five million more people will be able to breathe cleaner air and live healthier lives. 

“The rising cost of living has been a key consideration for me. That’s why I’m announcing that we will be introducing our biggest scrappage scheme yet – £110m – to support Londoners on lower incomes, disabled Londoners, small businesses and charities to scrap or retrofit their non-compliant vehicles. All the money raised by ULEZ will be pumped back into funding local public transport and I’m pleased to announce today that we are planning the biggest ever expansion of the bus network in outer London.     

“Expanding the ULEZ London-wide has not been an easy decision. 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. We have too often seen measures delayed around the world to tackle air pollution and the climate crisis because it’s viewed as being too hard or politically inconvenient. But there’s no time to waste when people’s lives are on the line and we are facing a climate crisis.  As mayor, I’m not willing to turn a blind eye because it’s clear the cost of inaction – to our economy, to livelihoods, to the environment and the health of Londoners – would be a far too high a price to pay.  Expanding ULEZ is the right choice for our city and something that I know will help us to continue building a better, greener, fairer and healthier London for everyone.”   

Alex Williams, TfL’s Chief Customer and Strategy Officer, said: ”Expanding the ULEZ is vital for public health in this city. We know that there are more deaths that are attributed to toxic air in the city’s outer boroughs and that bringing in these world leading standards over a larger area will see millions more breathing cleaner air. Our experience of these schemes shows that they work, with significant reductions in pollution since the first zone was introduced in 2019. 

“As part of helping people to make the green transition, the Mayor has announced unparalleled support for people to scrap their older, more polluting vehicles. These groups include those that are essential to capital’s recovery, some of the most vulnerable in society and those that look after them. Following the consultation and taking on board the feedback from disabled people, we are extending the grace period for certain vehicles and widening the criteria for those who qualify. This could potentially benefit more than 280,000 people.  

“The recent report that evaluated the Mayor’s previous scrappage scheme showed around a third of people choose not to purchase a new vehicle at all and 22 per cent no longer have access to a vehicle in their household. With this new package we will also be helping people to make more sustainable journeys with free annual bus and tram passes. This will be complemented by significant improvements to the outer London bus network, making public transport a more attractive alternative to the car.”    

Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, founder of the Ella Roberta Family Foundation and World Health Organization Advocate for Health and Clean Air, said:“When we had the inquest, we got the experts in Ella’s case to give some recommendations and all of them agreed ULEZ expansion was something that needed to be done to clean up the air in London. 

“The Mayor, the government and councils are all aware of what the experts say about the dangers of air pollution, and expanding ULEZ London-wide will be a significant help in tackling this public health crisis. I commend the mayor for pushing this forward.  
“Clean air should be a human right, and with Ella’s Law currently passing through the Lords, this is something I am fighting for every day. But the expanded ULEZ across London is a big step in the right direction.” 

Michael R. Bloomberg, UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Climate Ambition and Solutions and Founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies, said: “Reducing air pollution, improving public health, and fighting climate change all go hand in hand. Sadiq’s leadership is helping to clean London’s air and set an example for cities around the world. The faster cities make progress, the more lives we can save, and the better our chances of avoiding the worst effects of climate change.” 

Jeremy Leach, chair of London Living Streets, said: “The decision to expand the ULEZ to cover the 33 boroughs is a huge win for the health of all Londoners. London has long been a pioneer in Britain in tackling the enormous damage that air pollution causes directly through premature deaths and indirectly through long-term physical and mental damage. This is especially true for pedestrians who, all too often, have been walking along congested and polluted streets and roads. From summer 2023, everyone living, working and walking in outer London will benefit from cleaner air as well as having better access to public transport from the improved bus services.” 

Kevin Fenton, London Regional Director of Public Health, Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID), said: “Air pollution in London is the largest environmental health risk we are facing as a city, and one that affects the most vulnerable Londoners – including children – the most.  Bold action is needed from all of us.  Expanding the ULEZ will have significant health benefits for the city and prevent over 500,000 Londoners developing air pollution related diseases over 30 years.” 

Mark Hayden, Consultant Intensivist at Great Ormond Street Hospital, said: “We see first-hand the impact poor air quality has on our patients who face challenges such as asthma, cardiovascular disease, cystic fibrosis, stroke, premature birth, and other lung conditions.  

“That is why we are committed to finding, supporting and sharing creative solutions to tackle this health issue.  

“The cleaner the air, the better the future looks for our patients, and London as a whole.”   

Jane Burston, Chief Executive of Clean Air Fund said: “London is already at the forefront of national and global efforts to tackle air pollution, and the Mayor’s decision to expand the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) shows why. At the Clean Air Fund, we’re heartened by modelling which demonstrates that this policy will improve the air quality around 145 schools, improving health and saving lives. We applaud Mayor Khan’s continued commitment to make progress on air quality in the capital.” 

Sarah Woolnough, CEO at Asthma + Lung UK, said: “The expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) is a huge win for everyone’s lungs. Asthma + Lung UK is delighted that the Mayor of London has listened to our campaigners. It is particularly significant for the 360,000* people with a lung condition in outer London who will now be included in the ULEZ. We hope this will lead to fewer premature deaths and fewer hospital admissions linked to air pollution. 

“Breathing in toxic air not only puts people at risk of potentially life-threatening asthma attacks and dangerous COPD flare-ups, it can also lead to the development of lung conditions. We urge other polluted cities to follow in London’s footsteps by introducing ambitious Clean Air Zones to protect everyone right to breathe cleaner air.” 

Oliver Lord, UK Head of the Clean Cities Campaign said: “This is a welcome next step in our fight for clean air in London and especially for people living on the most polluted roads. Anyone doubting this decision should take a long walk along the north and south circular and reason with the families living there why they don’t deserve cleaner air. 

“The Mayor’s determination and the critical concessions he has tabled to help people comply in this cost of living crisis are to be commended. We’re still trapped in this dirty decade of diesel and I urge City Hall to give us greater clarity now on what’s needed next so that everyone has time to prepare.” 

Gareth Thomas MP, Harrow West, said: “I welcome the Mayor’s decision today to expand the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) London-wide. This bold and decisive action will help to cut the toxic air pollution in Harrow, reduce congestion, and tackle the climate emergency. Outer London boroughs will now benefit from the proven impact ULEZ can have in reducing roadside air pollution. Expanding these world leading standards to the whole city will mean that millions more people will be able to breathe cleaner air and live healthier lives.”  

Sir Ian Cheshire, Chair, We Mean Business Coalition; Chair, Channel 4; Chair, Spire Healthcare Group; Chair, Menhaden Capital, and non-executive director at BT, said: “I applaud the Mayor of London’s decision to expand his flagship air quality policy, the Ultra Low Emission Zone, which will mean five million more people breathing cleaner air. This is the kind of large-scale, decisive action we need to halve emissions this decade, and I have no doubt businesses in London and around the world will recognise the huge benefits that this policy will bring to communities and families across the capital.” 

Anjali Raman-Middleton, Co-founder and Programmes Director of Choked Up, said: “We know that the ULEZ significantly reduces harmful air pollutants, including nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter, and is one of the most effective ways of combating filthy air. By expanding the ULEZ to encompass all of London millions of people will breathe cleaner air, preventing loss of life and long term illness. The ULEZ will help us all breathe easy and I fully support its expansion.”  

Dr Doug Parr, Policy Director at Greenpeace UK said:“It’s a breath of fresh air to see that the ULEZ is being expanded. In 2019 alone, 4,000 Londoners died due to toxic air, which disproportionately affects deprived communities, people of colour and people in London’s outer boroughs. It’s absolutely right that the Mayor is reducing vehicle air pollution – it’s better for individuals, better for communities and better for the planet.  

“We believe that cities across the UK and beyond should follow London’s example and bring in their own ultra low-emissions zones. The more cities that do, the better the quality of the urban environment and the fewer people that are forced to breathe in toxic air.”  


Notes to editors

Notes to editors 

About the scheme  

  • It will expand on 29 August 2023 (from 00.01am)    
  • It will operate London-wide across all London boroughs, up to the current Low Emission Zone (LEZ) boundary.     
  • The LEZ for heavy vehicles will continue to operate.     
  • It will continue to operate 24 hours a day, every day of the year (except Christmas Day) 
  • Vehicles must meet strict emission standards to drive in the ULEZ area:    
  • Euro 4 for petrol cars and vans (widely available since 2006)    
  • Euro 6 for diesel cars and vans (widely available since 2016)    
  • Euro 3 for motorcycles and mopeds (widely available since 2007)    
  • Vehicles that do not meet the standards must pay the £12.50 daily charge    
  • TfL is removing the annual £10 per vehicle Auto Pay registration fee to make it easier for people with non-compliant vehicles to pay the charge.    
  • TfL is increasing the PCN level for the ULEZ to £180 (reduced to £90 if paid within 14 days) to maintain the deterrent effect of the scheme and achieve the scheme’s air quality and health objectives.   

The ULEZ charge is £12.50 a day. There are a number of options to avoid paying the charge if you own a non-compliant vehicle including, walking, cycling, taking public transport, using shared mobility such as a car club or upgrading to a cleaner vehicle. Whilst the Mayor is pleased to see so many people and organisations showing leadership by moving to electric vehicles, there is no need to purchase a brand-new or electric vehicle to meet the ULEZ standards. Petrol vehicles that meet the standards have been widely available since 2006.  

About the Scrappage Scheme  

The Mayor is providing £110m in funding for a new scrappage scheme to support Londoners on lower incomes, disabled Londoners, charities and micro-businesses.  

Londoners receiving certain means-tested benefits and non-means-tested disability benefits can apply for grants of up to £2,000 to scrap their non-compliant cars or motorcycles. As a new feature, successful applicants can choose to receive a lower grant value and up to two free annual bus and tram passes. Disabled people who want to scrap a non-compliant wheelchair accessible vehicle and those with certain other adaptations will be able to apply for grants of £5,000 to reflect the higher cost of these vehicles. Disabled people can also apply for a nominated driver who lives at a different address if they do not drive themselves.   

We’ve learned from previous schemes to ensure this scheme better supports a switch away from car ownership to public transport use. For the first time, the scrappage scheme will include an option to get more money overall if you take part of your payment in the form of a bus and tram season ticket.  

For example, someone who trades in their car and takes part-cash and two annual bus and tram season tickets would increase the overall value of their package by more than 50% (£3,064 including £1,200 in cash). This compares to £2,000 for the cash only scrappage option.    

Charities, sole traders and micro-businesses registered in London can apply to scrap a van (£5,000 grant) or a minibus (£7,000 grant), retrofit certain vans or minibuses (£5,000 grant) or scrap and replace a van or minibus with a fully electric vehicle (£7,500 or £9,500 grant respectively).    

The scheme will open for applications on 30 January 2023.   

New grace periods to support over 280,000 disabled people   

Currently, drivers of vehicles registered under the disabled and disabled passenger tax classes and drivers of wheelchair adapted PHVs are exempt from paying the charge until October 2025. Not-for-profit organisations operating community transport minibuses can register with TfL for a 100% discount until October 2023. The Mayor has confirmed plans to extend these existing grace periods for two years to October 2027 and October 2025 respectively.   

Following the consideration of various points raised in the consultation and in stakeholder meetings, The Mayor has decided to introduce new grace periods to support disabled Londoners, recognising that they may be more reliant on private vehicles.   

In addition to the existing grace periods, he has introduced:   

  • A new grace period for recipients of standard and higher rate mobility component of Personal Independence Payment as well as the higher mobility rate of Disability Living Allowance, higher mobility rate of Child Disability Payment, War Pensioners’ Mobility Supplement, Armed Forces Independence Payment, standard or enhanced rate of Adult Disability Payment.    
  • A new grace period for all wheelchair accessible vehicles and some vehicles with other adaptations (including vehicles with a ramp/power lift, electric or hydraulic lift, swivel seat or accelerator ring permanently fitted to the steering wheel).   

TfL will continue to explore with London boroughs how those holding Blue Badges who are not automatically eligible under the proposed benefits criteria for the grace period could be eligible.  

Eligible people (or their nominated driver) will need to register with TfL to receive this discount. The grace periods are available to all eligible people regardless of whether they live in London.   

The new grace periods will be available from 30 January 2023 and also apply to the existing zone. The grace periods will apply until October 2027.    

Outer London Bus Plan  

TfL continue to develop plans to improve the bus network in outer London which will play an important role in maximising the benefits of expanding the ULEZ, strengthening alternatives to private cars. Additional proposals are also being drawn up to improve bus services in outer London to support growth areas. This includes improvements in Havering, Barnet, Ealing, Harrow, Haringey and Redbridge. These changes are still under development and subject to consultation when more details would be published about specific route changes. These enhancements will add 1.1million new kilometres to the bus network 

[1] GLA: Expanded Ultra Low Emission Zone Six Month Report   

[2] Despite significant improvements in London’s air quality between 2016 and 2019, a study by researchers from Imperial College London found that London’s toxic air contributed to the deaths of around 4,000 Londoners in 2019. The greatest number of deaths attributable to air pollution were in outer London boroughs, mainly due to the higher proportion of elderly people in these areas, who are more vulnerable to the impacts of air pollution.  

A 2018 study by King’s College London (now Imperial) found that toxic air was stunting the growth of children’s lungs in Tower Hamlets and Hackney, with children losing about the size of two large eggs in lung capacity. The health benefits of the Mayor’s policies, including the ULEZ and its expansion, are expected to avoid almost 300,000 new cases of air quality-related disease, prevent more than one million hospital admissions and save the NHS around £5 billion by 2050.  

Please find the link to the consultation here