First month of Mayor’s Ultra-Low Emission Zone sees 74 per cent of vehicles comply with new standards

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, praises thousands of motorists across the capital for changing their behaviour to help improve London’s air quality

Published: Monday, 20th May 2019

ULEZ sign

As a report evaluating the first month’s impact of his Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) found that 74 per cent of vehicles driving into the zone were compliant with the new standards, with the number of non-compliant vehicles reduced by 9,400 on an average day.

Polluting vehicles account for around half of London’s harmful NOx air emissions, and air pollution costs the capital up to £3.7 billion every year. Launched on 8 April and operating alongside the congestion charge, the world’s first Ultra-Low Emission Zone is helping 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.

It operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year in the central London congestion charging zone. Motorists who drive in 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) have to pay a daily charge.

The report highlights how compliance has been improving since February 2017, when the Mayor confirmed the introduction of the Toxicity Charge (T-Charge) as a stepping stone towards the ULEZ and Londoners and businesses began preparing for the new schemes.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Today’s report shows how bold action reaps rewards – just one month after launching the world’s first ULEZ, leading the way for cities around the globe, we have already seen a significant impact on the types of vehicles driving in the centre of our capital and polluting our air. These were big changes, and vital ones - our toxic air is an invisible killer responsible for one of the biggest national health emergencies of our generation.

“It’s early days, but it’s great to see Londoners and businesses are doing their bit to make a difference, with nearly three quarters of the vehicles driving into central London each day now meeting the standards required to turn around this public health crisis. It’s vital this compliance is sustained to truly make a difference to our air quality, and as time goes on we will publish more research into the impact of the ULEZ, progressing this ground-breaking, life-saving work even further.”

It is not yet possible to determine the full impact of the ULEZ on air quality concentrations and emissions, because of the short time since its launch and other factors that may have affected traffic and concentrations, such as Easter holidays and the weather, in the central zone during this time. The best interim measures of success is vehicle compliance, with more research to come as the scheme progresses.

Petrol vehicles that meet the new standards have been widely available since 2006. There are two ULEZ charge levels for vehicles driving into the zone which do not meet these standards: £12.50 a day for cars, vans and motorbikes and £100 a day for lorries, buses and coaches. Non-compliant vehicles which have failed to pay the charge when driving into the zone during the launch period and are not exempt from the scheme have been issued warning letters from TfL. This has been done for the first contravention to ensure the correct action is taken in the future and to allow for any genuine mistakes that may have occurred.

Councillor Katherine Dunne, Lead Member for Communities and Workforce at Hounslow Council said:

“It is encouraging to see that the introduction of the ULEZ has yielded such positive results in its first month of operation. We look forward to further improvements in the capital’s air quality as the scheme becomes more embedded, which has a direct positive effect for our air quality and communities in Hounslow.”

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