Ulez generated £220m for City Hall last year

TfL says money is being spent on establishing the Ulez expansion and investment in public transport, reports Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter

The Ultra Low Emission Zone and (inset) some cash
The Ultra Low Emission Zone and (inset) some cash

The Ultra Low Emission Zone (Ulez) last year generated more than £220million, it has been revealed.

A total of £224,633,003 was raised by the Ulez in 2022, according to figures obtained by the BBC. Roughly a third of the money came from penalty charge notices (PCNs), with the rest from daily charge payments.

Transport for London (TfL) has said the money is being used to cover “set-up costs” for the Ulez expansion and “running and improving” the rest of London’s transport network.

The zone is set to expand on 29th August to cover the whole of London.

Any vehicle driven within the zone must meet Ulez emission standards, or pay a £12.50 daily charge. Failure to pay incurs a PCN of £180, although this figure is reduced to £90 if paid within a fortnight.

Last year, £151.3m was generated through daily charges, with £73.3m in PCNs.

A spokeswoman for London mayor Sadiq Khan said earlier this month: “The Ulez is not designed to be a money-making scheme and within a few years, as compliance increases, it will make a net loss — any net proceeds are ring-fenced and reinvested into London’s transport network.”

Ulez was launched in April 2019, covering the same area as the existing central London congestion zone. In October 2021, the zone expanded to reach the North Circular and South Circular roads – significantly increasing the pool of potentially affected drivers.

It was shortly after that expansion, in December 2021, when the Ulez made its highest amount of money in a single month – taking in close to £28m.

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Since then however, the income has steadily declined. TfL says this is due to people making the transition to low-emission vehicles.

Nick Rogers AM, City Hall Conservatives transport spokesperson, said: “Sadiq Khan’s Ulez expansion takes money from charities, small businesses and people on low incomes, while doing next to nothing to improve air quality.

“The figures released today show once again that Sadiq Khan is more interested in making money than he is in tackling air pollution.”

Khan has said that the Ulez expansion will allow five million Londoners to breathe cleaner air, and save lives in the process. A £110m scrappage scheme was put in place earlier this year, to enable small businesses, charities and Londoners on low incomes to apply for grants towards the cost of Ulez-compliant vehicles – after relenting to pressure, City Hall last week agreed to expand the scheme.

Nick’s claim that the expansion will do “next to nothing to improve air quality” is in reference to an official assessment report on the impact of the expanded Ulez, carried out by the firm Jacobs. It said: “[The] proposed scheme is modelled to result in a minor reduction (-1.3%) in the average exposure of the population of Greater London to NO2 [nitrogen dioxide] and negligible reductions (-0.1%) in average exposure to PM2.5 [particulate matter].”

City Hall has previously responded to that point by saying it is “important to understand the impact of this [the expanded Ulez] policy in absolute terms”.

A spokesperson has said: “For example, although NO2 concentration reductions are smaller in percentage terms than for the central London Ulez, in absolute terms there is a much larger volume of NOx emissions saved equating to 362 tonnes. This is in comparison to the 240 tonnes saving we saw in central London.”

Professor Frank Kelly, a global authority on the health effects of toxic air, has said that widening the Ulez “as soon as possible” will improve the health of Londoners.

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