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World’s first 24 hour Ultra Low Emission Zone starts in London

The #MayorofLondon, Sadiq Khan, has today (8 April 2019) introduced the world’s toughest #vehicle #emissions standard in central London to help reduce toxic air pollution and protect public health. 


The #CentralLondon #ULEZ will operate in the same area as the current #CongestionCharge zone 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. It replaces the T-Charge and operates alongside the Congestion Charge. 

Polluting vehicles account for around 50% of London’s harmful #NOx air emissions. #Airpollution has an economic cost to the capital of up to £3.7 billion every year, and £20 billion cost to the country every year.

The Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) will help address London’s toxic air health crisis that currently leads to thousands of premature deaths annually, and increases the risk of asthma, cancer and dementia. 

Motorists who drive into the zone in a vehicle that does not meet the new emission standard (petrol vehicles that do not meet Euro 4 standards and diesel vehicles that do not meet Euro 6) will have to pay a daily charge. Petrol vehicles that meet the standard have been widely available since 2006. There will be two ULEZ charge levels: £12.50 a day for cars, vans and motorbikes and £100 a day for lorries, buses and coaches.  

Thousands of motorists have already started to change their behaviour as they prepare for ULEZ by driving less polluting vehicles into the area, and using cleaner transport alternatives including walking or cycling, and public transport, it can be revealed today. A major awareness campaign has been underway for more than nine months to ensure drivers and businesses are ready for the ULEZ, with TfL’s online vehicle checker being used more than 3.2 million times during this period.  

Since February 2017, when the Mayor announced the introduction of the T-charge as a stepping stone for the ULEZ, there has been:  

  • A reduction in the total number of vehicles seen in the Central London ULEZ zone (around 11,000 fewer vehicles per day). 

  • A 38% rise in the total number of compliant vehicles in the zone between February 2017 and March 2019.  

  • An increase in the proportion of compliant vehicles in the Central London ULEZ zone from 39% in February 2017 to 61% in March 2019. 

This represents a 55% increase in the proportion of compliant vehicles in the Central London ULEZ zone since February  2017 and illustrates the impact that the ULEZ has already had on improving vehicle emissions standards in Central London.

The ULEZ is the centrepiece of a range of hard hitting measures the Mayor has implemented to tackle London’s toxic air. From today 6950 buses (75% of all TfL buses) – including all buses operating in the ULEZ zone – meet or exceed the new emission standards. By October 2020 every bus in London – all 9200 of TfL’s fleet – will meet or exceed the ULEZ standards – an unprecedented transformation to make London’s famous red buses go green.  

The most recent data on air pollution in London reveals that more than two million Londoners still live in areas that exceed legal limits for NO2, 400,000 of whom are children under the age of 18. King’s College London research has found that, if the Mayor had not implemented a series of hard hitting measures to tackle pollution, London’s air would not come into compliance with legal limits for another 193 years.  

However, with the Mayor’s air pollution measures, King’s College analysis indicates that London’s air will reach legal limits in six years. The number of schools exceeding the legal limit for NO2 is expected to fall from over 450 in 2016 to 5 in 2020 and zero in 2025.  

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: ‘This is a landmark day for our city. Our toxic air is an invisible killer responsible for one of the biggest national health emergencies of our generation. I simply refuse to be yet another politician who ignores it. The ULEZ is the centrepiece of our plans to clean up London’s air – the boldest plans of any city on the planet, and the eyes of the world are on us.  

‘This is also about social justice – people in the most deprived parts of London, who are least likely to own a car, suffer the worst effects of harmful air pollution. I will not stand by and watch children grow up with under developed lungs in our city. The ULEZ is a vital step towards helping combat London’s illegal air.’

Professor Jonathan Grigg of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), said: ‘Air pollution can have major health implications on the developing child, with early exposure proven to increase the risk of asthma and lung infections, and these can be life threatening. Approximately 50% of air pollution comes from road transport and 45% comes from diesel, so the introduction of London’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone on 8 April is extremely welcome. Coupled with this move, we need to see employers and schools encouraging and facilitating better use of public transport and active travel options like walking and cycling. London has some active travel networks which, if utilised, not only reduce air pollution but also improve family fitness which has many positive health benefits.’

Alex Williams, Transport for London's director of city planning, said: ‘The introduction of the Ultra Low Emission Zone is a central and crucial part of the fight to improve London’s air for the benefit of everyone’s health, and it is great to see that so many drivers and businesses have already taken action to make sure their vehicles are compliant. The ULEZ will nearly halve road based NOx emissions in central London, reducing air pollution which has led to thousands of premature deaths in the capital and stunted the development of children’s lungs. We are also doing our bit to reduce road transport emissions across London. We have upgraded our bus fleet so that all buses in central London meet the ULEZ standard, with all buses across London ULEZ compliant by October 2020. We have already reduced NOx road transport emissions in the most polluted areas by introducing Low Emission Bus Zones and are encouraging the taxi industry to switch to cleaner vehicles, with more than 1400 electric taxis now serving London’s roads.’

The Mayor has recently launched a £48 million scrappage scheme for microbusinesses and charities, as well as people on low income who may struggle to pay ULEZ charges and want to scrap older, more polluting vehicles.  

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