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London ULEZ: Where the expanded Greater London zone will cover, and why it is unpopular with many people?

Report/ Nisar Ahmed

The ULEZ expansion has come into force, taking the zone up to London’s borders with Surrey, Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire. Sky News looks at what the zone is for and why people are unhappy at the prospect of it growing.
The Ultra Low Emission Zone – more commonly known as ULEZ – aims to improve air quality in London by charging heavy polluting smaller vehicles to drive on its roads.
London mayor Sadiq Khan has expanded the area, citing more Londoners dying prematurely of lung conditions – and at risk of developing dementia.
He’s been met with fierce opposition, however. A group of five Conservative-led councils launched a High Court challenge against the plans. Their appeal was unsuccessful, but there remains a debate over how impactful the changes will be. Here’s everything you need to know about how ULEZ works, where the expansion covers – and why some people want the expansion scrapped.


Where does the new ULEZ cover?
When it was first implemented in 2019, ULEZ covered London up to – but not including – the North and South Circular (A406) roads.
But now, from 29 August, the area is around 18 times larger, encompassing around five million more Londoners. It now covers all 32 London boroughs and borders the surrounding counties of Surrey, Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire.
In some places it reaches the M25, which isn’t included, and still provides a route to bypass the city. People have to pay a £12.50 daily fee to drive in the zone if their car does not meet emissions standards
Cameras are used to track vehicles and check if they need to pay.
Is my car ULEZ compliant?
Almost 700,000 cars in London are no longer Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) compliant now the scheme has expanded, according to analysis by RAC.
ULEZ emissions standards are based on Euro standards – regulations that are imposed on new cars. They are numbered and different categories of vehicles need to meet different standards. To meet ULEZ emissions standards, motorbikes and mopeds must meet Euro 3, petrol cars Euro 4 and diesel cars Euro 6. Because the Euro standards were made mandatory when they were brought in, most petrol cars less than 16 years old or diesel cars less than 6 years old already meet the emissions standards. You can check whether your car complies on the TfL website. Lorries, vans, buses and minibuses do not need to pay the ULEZ charge, but they might need to pay a LEZ charge (more on what that is below).
Why is the expansion so unpopular?
Residents and council leaders in outer London and the areas bordering the capital are not happy about having to pay a daily charge. The expansion plans were blamed for Labour’s loss in the Uxbridge and South Ruislip by-election, despite efforts by the candidate to distance himself from Mr Khan’s policy.
A High Court challenge was launched by five councils – the London boroughs of Bexley, Bromley, Harrow, Hillingdon and Surrey County Council – against the expansion.
The councils claim statutory requirements were not followed, the proposed scrappage scheme was not consulted on and expected compliance rates in outer London were not considered.
Baroness O’Neill of Bexley, leader of Bexley Council, said the expansion will have “disastrous consequences” for local residents and businesses, as well as others who travel into the area.
At a demonstration against the expansion at the end of May, protesters said the expansion will affect people on low incomes who cannot afford to replace an older car. They talked about people who need to use cars to visit sick relatives, go to the hospital or take children to extra-curricular activities.
Some argue that the impact of the expansion will be negligible – citing research that suggests only a 3% drop in nitrogen dioxide levels and minimal impacts on other toxins.
However, the expansion has been ruled lawful by the High Court. In making his ruling, Mr Justice Swift said he was satisfied that expanding the scheme was within the mayor’s powers and that enough information was given for people to provide “informed responses” to the public consultation process.
What help is there – and what’s the ULEZ scrappage scheme?
Sadiq Khan has announced the ULEZ scrappage scheme will be extended to all Londoners.
The grants were previously only available to child benefit recipients, disabled people and those on low incomes – but from Monday 21 August 2023 everyone in the capital can apply. Charities, traders and businesses can apply for larger grants to scrap, retrofit or replace a van or minibus.
Under the new plans, there will now be support for:
• All Londoners
• Londoners receiving child benefit
• Businesses registered in London with fewer than 50 employees. Currently, only those with up to 10 staff can apply.
• London-based charities looking to scrap or retrofit up to three vans or minibuses, instead of just one
• Some care workers.
Are there any exemptions for paying ULEZ fees?
There are some exemptions or “grace periods” including for people on disability benefits, wheelchair accessible vehicles and minibuses used for community transport.
Has ULEZ helped reduce pollution?
Expanding ULEZ to the North and South Circular Roads in October 2021 led to a drastic reduction in harmful air pollution, according to a City Hall report.
Toxic nitrogen dioxide concentrations are estimated to be 49% lower in central London and 22% lower in inner London than they would have been without the ULEZ. Data showed the expansion led to a 60% reduction in non-compliant vehicles within the zone, taking the equivalent of 74,000 polluting vehicles off the roads per day.
The move also reduced overall traffic within the area by almost 5% – approximately 50,000 cars.
According to Mayor Sadiq Khan, the expanded zone will “make further progress” by reducing nitrogen oxides from cars and vans in outer London by 10 and 7% respectively and reducing PM2.5 concentrations in outer London by nearly 16%.
What is LEZ and how is it different to ULEZ?
The Low Emission Zone (LEZ) was introduced in 2008 to discourage the worst polluting diesel vehicles from driving in London. It’s different from ULEZ, which mainly targets heavy polluting cars that don’t meet Euro standards.
LEZ only applies to pre-1 September 2015 lorries over 3.5 tonnes, coaches over five tonnes, larger vans, minibuses and motorhomes. The charges are much more expensive than ULEZ ones – between £100 and £300 compared to £12.50. LEZ covers the same area as the new ULEZ scheme.
Asked if he was targeting drivers in an interview with Sky News, the London mayor said he “absolutely” was not.
On the day it expanded, he said it was a “difficult but vital” move – and that he has been “listening to the concerns” of those opposed or having to pay more.
He claims Londoners want “bold action” on air quality. “What they don’t want is politicians for short-term political gain playing politics with public health and the climate emergency,” he added.Previously he said: “All of us benefit from cleaner air, all of us benefit from fewer admissions to hospitals because of respiratory issues, all of us benefit when people are not taking time off work because they’ve got ill health and all of us benefit with people living longer lives.”
Where else in the UK has a low emission zone?
Several cities have low-emission or clean air zones. Glasgow was the first place in Scotland to have a low-emission zone, which came into force in 2018. Oxford has a small zero emissions zone covering nine streets in the city centre, while Bristol and Birmingham’s clean air zones follow the same criteria for cars as ULEZ.
Bath, Bradford and Portsmouth all have emissions rules, but they don’t apply to private cars .

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