In March, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he wanted the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) to cover the whole of the city. Despite some backlash, his plans are now a step nearer to going ahead. The London Assembly has voted in favour of sanctioning an update of the Mayor’s statutory transport strategy, allowing him to extend the ULEZ further into Greater London if he decides to. Currently, the ULEZ only includes inner London, within the South and North Circular roads, but Sadiq wants to include outer London in the charge zone from August 2023.
In the vote, the sanction to update the Mayor’s plans for ULEZ expansion passed with 14 votes in favour from Labour, the Greens and the Lib Dems, and nine votes against, all of which were from Tories.
The scheme currently costs £12.50 a day for non-emission-compliant vehicles to enter the ULEZ zone. This generally includes older and particularly polluting vehicles. Opponents have claimed that the scheme is disproportionately hard on poorer drivers who may not be able to replace their vehicles, and those who rely on cars for work. This could become more of an issue if the scheme were to be extended to outer areas of London with less public transport.
However, research from City Hall shows that children in London being admitted to hospital with severe asthma increased by 64 percent between 2021 to 2022. Over the year, more than 3,600 children were treated for breathing problems.
Data published by the Mayor shows that 229 children and young people were admitted to hospital with asthma in June this year alone. It also shows that air pollution disproportionately affects people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds: around half of hospital admissions were children from these demographics, compared to 28 percent of white children. According to Sadiq, making the ULEZ cover the whole city is vital to bring down pollution-related illnesses and deaths. Significantly, in 2019, pre-Covid, the outer London boroughs of Bromley, Barnet, Croydon and Havering recorded the highest numbers of air-pollution-related deaths.