Prime Minister urges Mayor of London to “properly reconsider” ULEZ expansion

by Gavin Braithwaite-Smith
19 January 2023 3 min read
Prime Minister urges Mayor of London to “properly reconsider” ULEZ expansion
Photo: Nissan

The Prime Minister has urged the Mayor of London to reconsider his plan to expand the capital’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ).

Rishi Sunak was speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions in response to Conservative MP David Simmonds, who said: “Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner has a great many car-dependent older and disabled constituents, many of who are horrified to read that the Mayor of London may have manipulated the outcome of his own consultation in order to impose an unwanted £12.50 daily charge every time they go for a medical appointment or attend hospital.

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“Does he agree with me that any further rollout of the ULEZ should be paused until these matters have been fully investigated?”

The ULEZ, which was extended in 2021 to cover all parts of the city within the North and South Circular Roads, is being expanded again on 29 August, 2023 to cover all London boroughs, extending as far as the M25 boundary in places. Owners of petrol cars which fail to meet Euro 4 emissions regulations, diesels which don’t match Euro 6 and two-wheelers that can’t pass Euro 3 tests will face a daily charge of £12.50 for driving anywhere within the ULEZ.

Although classic cars aged 40 or older are exempt from the charge, hundreds of thousands of drivers of modern-classics and everyday cars would be hit with heavy costs – and face the stark choice of paying for a more modern – and likely more expensive – compliant vehicle or putting their hand in their pocket during a cost-of-living crisis. Driving a non-compliant car just once a week would rack up an annual bill of £650 – more than many drivers’ insurance and road tax combined. Use it five days a week and the ULEZ charge rises to £3250 a year.

Responding to the question from Simmonds, Sunak said: “It is disappointing that the Mayor, backed by the Leader of the Opposition, is choosing not to listen to the public, expanding the zone against the overwhelming views of residents and business.

“I urge the Mayor to properly reconsider and respond to these serious concerns.”

ULEZ zone London from August 2023 extends to M25
London ULEZ from August 2023

Some London boroughs will not co-operate with Transport for London (TfL) in installing cameras required to police the ULEZ. A spokesperson for Harrow Council said that the borough “will not be co-operating with TfL” in putting up cameras, adding “the evidence that ULEZ will work is not there”.

Hillingdon, Bexley and Bromley councils have also voiced opposition to the scheme, while Sutton Council said it will block the installation of cameras. A spokesperson for Sutton said: “We are concerned that the costs will be shouldered by people already struggling to get by in a difficult time, including small business owners and key workers.

“We are taking this step to send a strong signal to the Mayor that he must start listening to local people. Though the Mayor has the right to overrule us, and may attempt to force this unpopular decision on the residents of Sutton, we are clear that would be the wrong thing to do.”

TFL commissioner Andy Lord said that blocking the cameras is counter-productive, warning that it could turn boroughs into “rat runs” for drivers seeking to avoid the daily charge. “If boroughs refuse to engage and we get into a delay in one area, the risk is that those boroughs see increased traffic,” he said.

Speaking during a debate on the Mayor of London’s plan to expand the Ultra Low Emission Zone across the whole of Greater London, Gareth Bacon, MP for Orpington, suggested the decision was driven by a need to generate revenue, and that Transport for London’s own consultation and air quality reporting showed overwhelming opposition and negligible improvements to air quality.

Read more

What ULEZ means for drivers in London
London’s ULEZ zone will expand to M25 from August 2023
London ULEZ expansion threatens the future of major Mini event

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  • Mike Francis says:

    Maybe a mass civil protest should be announced for the Month of May whereby nobody pays the existing charge and everybody appeals any PCNs received. That should bring the present system to a shuddering halt pretty quickly and help focus the Mayors mind on how best to progress the situation in the present much changed circumstances we find ourselves in since this massive ULEZ expansion was first proposed.

  • Eddie Mcinally says:

    I have been forced to get rid of my car because it not applies to the ulez and lost over £3000 now it’s coming up that the local borough are against this charge.if so can get the £3000 back from the mayor of London

  • Chris+Waghorn says:

    Mike, I think that the Mayor should be most flattered to hear that someone thinks he has a mind to be focused in the first place. His otherwise empty skull seems to have a few loose ideas rattling around inside, under the broad headings of revenue raising and making life as difficult as possible for Londoners.

  • James Angel says:

    Government bailouts run out in March 2024 so now he’s gonna start charging the public for his mismanagement of TFL and in general the mayors office, is it me or have all the London mayors been *****… between them they’ve ****** up Londons roads completely, cycle lanes being the ultimate disaster, closely followed by far too many buses. As a decorating contractor I’ve been travelling (by van) to London regularly for 45 years so have some idea what’s been going on. The idea of a utopian city where the air is pure and everyone rides a bike is a complete fantasy, and as for electric cars personally I think they’re a bit of a fad.. bit like curved TV’s were. Synthetic fuel and/or hydrogen is the way forward.

  • Mike Appleyard says:

    If the not too clever mayor had done his research he would know that Los Angeles kept blaming cars for years and then found out it was restaurants, fast food joints and wood fired pizza parlours creating the airborne filth. Time to wake up! Lord help the poor Londoners.

  • Chris Owen says:

    The area between the North and South circular rods is one thing, but the Mayor of London should not have the power to extend it to the M25. The government needs to limit his power.
    As with everything else he does, it’s the hard working less well off that suffer these costs.

  • Gota says:

    This Khan should not be a London mayor!

  • Jan Kijowski says:

    How do you explain this hypocrisy and not to mention his £350,000 bullet proof Range Rover

    His office issued an alarming report last Monday warning that car pollution was endangering the lives of 3.1 million children in England – and praised the Mayor’s policies to cut emissions.

    But three days later, the politician was seen being driven with his wife Saadiya and dog Luna in a convoy of three vehicles, including a £75,000 petrol-driven Jaguar, which has a five-litre V8 engine, a £50,000 diesel Volkswagen people-carrier, and a Volvo hybrid petrol-electric SUV worth £50,000.

    Staggeringly, the Mayor was driven to Battersea Park to walk his dog – despite living just a few hundred yards from one of London’s largest commons in Tooting, South London

  • Martin C says:

    My vehicle and all 3 of tenants vehicles don’t comply with ULEZ. This leaves me with not being able to visit my property for inspection and maintenance visits and my tenants are tradespeople so can’t do their jobs without buying a newer vehicles or paying £12.50 ULEZ tax both of which are unacceptable costs for us.

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