A body representing car dealers has spoken out on London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s plans to extend the Ultra-Low Emission Zone next year, blasting the decision as ‘the wrong move at the wrong time’ with the nation gripped by a cost-of-living crisis.
Expanding the zone from 29 August 2023 could have a ‘disproportional and adverse effect on London’s most deprived communities and motorists’ at a time when family finances are significantly squeezed by escalating energy bills, higher food prices and inflated petrol and diesel bills, the National Franchised Dealers Association warns.
The consultation open to the public regarding the expansion of the emissions charging zone in the capital closed on Friday with the expectation that the boundary will be extended to cover all 33 London boroughs.
Car dealers blast ULEZ expansion plans: The NFDA says the proposal to extend the charging zone in August 2023 is the ‘wrong move at the wrong time’ during a cost-of-living crunch
The decision to extend the ULEZ for a second time in as many years will force Londoners driving older cars to trade them in for newer models that meet the zone’s emission requirements – else face a daily charge of £12.50.
While this could see more demand for new and used cars as showrooms around the capital, dealers say the move will likely push many people out of car ownership if they can’t afford to replace their existing motors.
Sue Robinson, chief executive of the NFDA, said: ‘Although action to counter London’s air pollution is necessary, the proposed extension of the ULEZ scheme is being brought through with little consideration to affected stakeholders.
‘The additional cost to some of London’s poorest communities will push some families over the brink and force a reduction in their access to private mobility, this in the backdrop of Britain’s worst cost of living crises, which hasn’t been fully considered by TfL.’
The Mayor has proposed for the ULEZ boundary to be widened from the North and South Circular roads (green are) to cover all 33 London boroughs (the larger purple area) from 29 August 2023 in a bid to reduce toxic air pollution in the capital
Mayor Khan’s proposal includes the ‘biggest scrappage scheme feasible’ to help motorists in outer London.
However, the only details about how this would work say it will be available only to disabled motorists and those on benefits, which will mean many low-income workers who rely on the vehicles for commuting, taking children to school and running errands will likely not qualify.
‘The TfL has yet to provide a detailed plan for its scrappage scheme, which it argues will support less-affluent motorists in ensuring their vehicles are compliant with ULEZ,’ Robinson said.
Sue Robinson, NFDA chief exec, says the proposed ULEZ expansion has ‘little consideration to affected stakeholders’ and will drive hard-pressed drivers off the road
‘The lack of transparency around this, the benefit the expansion will have, and the justification for the expansion all cast doubts in many affected stakeholders’ minds.
‘We would urge TfL to work with relevant automotive industry stakeholders in exploring other policy tools which can be utilised to improve the quality of air within the capital as extending the ULEZ boundary is the wrong move at the wrong time.’
Mr Khan says an expansion of the zone is necessary to tackle the ‘triple challenges of tackling toxic air pollution, the climate emergency and traffic congestion’.
He says: ‘We simply don’t have time to waste.
‘The climate emergency means we only have a small window of opportunity left to cut harmful emissions to help save the planet.
‘Toxic air pollution is still permanently damaging the lungs of young Londoners and leading to thousands of premature deaths every year.’
While the mayor suggests the ULEZ has made a ‘significant difference’ in reducing harmful roadside emissions, the latest TfL report suggests last October’s expansion to the North and South Circular Road is has shown very little impact on reducing both nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter pollution.
Sadiq Khan oversaw the extension of the original zone (introduced in April 2019) to the North and South Circular roads in October last year. A six-month report published recently showed it has so far had little impact on reducing harmful roadside emissions
This graph taken from the TfL report suggests nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions have increased in the most central part of the capital in the last six months
This chart, also taken from the report, shows no dramatic improvement in reducing particulate matter (PM2.5) emissions in London in the six months since ULEZ was extended last October
Vehemently opposing Mr Khan’s proposed extension of the zone, Howard Cox, founder of the FairFuelUK campaign says: ‘It is proven that expanding the cash grabbing ULEZ further will have a negligible reduction, if any, on roadside emissions. His own data tells him, this is the case.
Is your vehicle ULEZ compliant?
More than 100,000 cars are set to be affected by the expansion scheduled for 29 August 2023 next year.
The ULEZ operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week – though not Christmas Day.
Those with older, non-compliant, vehicles have to pay the daily charge of £12.50.
This could mean an extra £4,500 a year in outgoings for hard-pressed motorists – and an additional £450million raised for City Hall’s annual coffers.
Below are the emission standards required to be exempt from the daily charge for different vehicle types:
Petrol cars and vans: need to meet Euro 4 standards (vehicles post-2006)
Diesel cars and vans: need to meet Euro 6 standards (vehicles post-2015)
Motorbikes and mopeds: need to meet Euro 3 standards (post-2007 vehicles)
If you’re unsure about the emission standard of your vehicle, you can use the ULEZ registration look-up.
‘This ill-thought-out plan is simply an easy cash grab by a virtue signalling myopic, to pay off the massive debts he has accumulated for his own political intentions.
‘All as per usual, at the inevitable expense of already high taxed and demonised drivers.’
Conservative MPs also rallied in opposition to the expansion proposals.
Robert Halfon, Tory MP for Harlow described the plans as ‘yet another tax for hardworking motorists in greater and outer London.
He added: ‘It will be a hammer blow my Harlow constituents many of them are van drivers who have to travel to Greater London every day.
‘Instead of assaulting working people with extra costs, the Mayor should be trying to cut the cost-of-living.’
Gareth Bacon, Conservative MP for Oprington, added: ‘Transport for London’s own assessment finds that expanding ULEZ will have little to no effect on to air pollution levels in Greater London.
‘It will also have a negligible effect on carbon emissions. It’s about raising money, not about cleaner air.’
Penny Mordaunt, Tory MP representing Portsmouth North said an expansion in August is ‘poor timing given the pressures small firms and families are under.’