Anger over Sadiq Khan telling 200,000 London motorists to pay ‘punitive tax’

The Mayor of London has extended the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) to the capital’s outskirts, forcing more than 200,000 motorists to pay an extra £12.50 ($15) per day.

Michael Bloomberg, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Climate Ambition and Solutions, has praised Mayor Sadiq Khan for “helping to clean the air in London and set an example for cities around the world”.

But the measure will affect many businesses that use vans to deliver goods around London. The Small Business Federation’s Michael Lloyd said it was a “brute force” move that “puts many small businesses in a precarious position.”

Transport for London estimates that the extension will affect 160,000 cars and 42,000 vans per day.

Earlier this month, former Prime Minister Boris Johnson — whose Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituencies are subject to the extension — tweeted that the leaders of the Conservative-led Hillingdon Council and Hillingdon Labor Group leaders He said he supported the letter he wrote, adding: Now is not the right time to take this measure that will increase people’s cost of living. “

Council leader Ian Edwards and Labor Party leader Peter Carling said in a letter: [Greater London Authority] Not only to impose this punitive tax, but to work with the London suburban boroughs to achieve this objective for the benefit of all residents. “

Launched by Khan in 2019, the ULEZ initially covered only the same central London areas as the Congestion Charge, but was expanded to cover the North and South Ring Roads in October 2021.

a Research by Imperial College The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Center for Transport Studies said last year, “The ULEZ produced only modest improvements in air quality compared to the overall reduction in air pollution levels in London. The impact on ozone and particulate matter concentrations was negligible.”

The vehicles most likely to be required to pay the ULEZ fee are diesel cars and vans registered before 2016, or petrol cars registered before 2006.

vehicle traffic london
Vehicles in traffic approaching the Blackwall Tunnel in London, November 18, 2020. (Simon Dawson/Reuters)

Most petrol models registered after 2006 are exempt, but diesel vehicles and vans generally must be registered after 2016 to avoid the charge.

It will now extend to the farthest reaches of the London Borough near the M25 railroad motorway.

When first introduced, Khan said it would halve emissions of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which affects air quality.

NO2 can damage the lungs and exacerbate pre-existing conditions such as asthma, lung and heart disease.

Khan said on Friday that the ULEZ will cover the entire capital from 29 August 2023.

“Public health takes precedence over political expediency.”

Mr Khan said: The easy thing for me was to kick the can into the street. Ultimately, however, public health trumps political expediency. “

He said it was “one of the most difficult decisions” he had to make, but said air pollution was “sickening from cradle to grave” in London, criticizing air quality Poor obesity has been linked to cancer, lung disease, dementia and asthma.

In December 2020, Philip Barlow, the South London coroner’s office, said the death of 9-year-old Ella Kissi Debra in February 2013 was attributed to acute respiratory failure, severe asthma and exposure to air pollution. I ruled that there is.

Kissi-Debrah lived near a busy road in Lewisham, south-east London.

The coroner said he was exposed to nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter pollution exceeding World Health Organization guidelines.

Speaking to London World about Friday’s decision to expand the ULEZ, Kissi-Debrah’s mother Rosamund said: This has to stop. “

Khan, who was re-elected as mayor in May 2021, has promised to encourage people to walk, cycle or use public transport, and to significantly expand bus routes in London’s suburban boroughs. did.

After public consultations held between May and July this year, Mr Khan announced a £110m disposal fund to help small businesses, disabled and low-income people scrap or convert non-compliant vehicles. Announcing scheme plans.

The Conservative Party of the Greater London Authority said 70% of London suburban residents were against it, referring to public consultations.

Conservative transport spokesman Nick Rogers said: “Now is not the time to charge Londoners £12.50 a day to live. We don’t want expansion and the Mayor must listen to them, scrap these plans and use the £250m saved for real action to tackle air pollution.”

The RAC’s head of road policy, Nicholas Lyes, said the extension “would be a blow to desperate drivers and businesses already struggling with crippling fuel costs.”

According to the Federation of Small Businesses, a recent survey found that 18% of members planned to close if the extension progressed, and a quarter intended to pass on additional costs to customers.

The campaign group Mums for Lungs wrote on Twitter: Air pollution affects children before they are born and causes lifelong health problems. We welcome this move to make London’s air even cleaner. “

PA Media contributed to this content.

Chris Summers


Chris Summers is a UK-based journalist with a wide range of national coverage, with a particular interest in crime, police and law.