The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, will expand the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) (earlier post) London-wide. The expansion will come into effect on 29 August 2023 and will operate across all London boroughs up to the existing Low Emission Zone boundary for large and heavy vehicles.
On 8 April 2019 the Mayor of London launched the ULEZ in central London. In October 2021, the zone was expanded up to, but not including, the North and South Circular Roads. The ULEZ is now 18 times the size of the original area and covers 4 million people—more than a third of London’s population.
Map of the current Low Emission Zone (LEZ) and ULEZ boundaries. Source: Transport for London
Vehicles must meet strict emission standards to drive in the ULEZ area:
Euro 4 for gasoline 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 a £12.50 daily charge
The ULEZ has already helped to reduce roadside pollution levels by 44% in central London and 20% in inner London. Expanding ULEZ London-wide is projected to save 27,000 tonnes of CO2 in outer London, nearly double that which the central London ULEZ achieved in its first year of operation. Among other improvements, the expansion is forecast to make further progress to reduce air pollution, by reducing NOx emissions from cars and vans in outer London by 10% and 7% respectively, and reducing PM2.5 car exhaust emissions in outer London by nearly 16%, benefitting five million outer London residents.
Expanded ULEZ in August 2023. Source TfL
The expansion will be accompanied by a new £110-million (US$133-million) scrappage scheme to support Londoners on lower incomes, disabled Londoners, charities and small businesses and sole traders. 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 organizations 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 maximize the potential benefits of expanding the ULEZ and strengthen alternatives to private cars, the Mayor 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 more than one million further kilometers 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.
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%, much higher than the 39% when ULEZ was first announced in 2017, and also higher than 85% the month before previous expansion, and compliance in outer London is already around 85%. 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.