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ULEZ: Campaigners say London pollution charge zone is not enough

bbc– The extension of London’s pollution charge zone has come into force, but some campaigners claim it does not go far enough.

The Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), in which drivers of older, more polluting vehicles are liable for the sum, has become 18 times larger.

The zone began in central London but it now covers all areas inside the North and South Circular roads.

However, campaign group Mums for Lungs said it should cover London as a whole.

  • London ULEZ expansion: What you need to know

Motorists who drive inside the area in non-compliant cars will face a £12.50 daily fee, while drivers of lorries and buses which are liable will have to pay £100.

Those who fail to pay will be subject to a £160 penalty fine.

You can check if you will have to pay here.

Speaking about the expanded zone, Mums for Lungs member Ruth Fitzharris said her son, who is asthmatic, had been to hospital up to 12 times with breathing difficulties due to the level of pollution in her neighbourhood.

“We were told by doctors to avoid areas with heavy traffic, which in London is really difficult,” she said.

Ms Fitzharris added that she was relieved the expanded ULEZ zone should help reduce pollution levels, but stressed the scheme could go further to cover areas other than major traffic hotspots.

“There are countless children – one in 10 in London have asthma – so further change is needed,” she said.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “London’s toxic air is a health crisis causing long-lasting harm to our children and contributing to thousands of premature deaths.

“The Ultra Low Emission Zone has already cut nitrogen dioxide pollution by nearly half in central London and the expansion of the zone on 25 October means many more Londoners across the city will enjoy the benefits of cleaner, healthier air.”

Despite the health benefits, others believe the scheme should be delayed following the financial difficulties that arose from the Covid-19 pandemic.

LTC Scaffolding and Roofing in Harefield, north-west London, said the expansion would cost it £10,000 a week as well as leading to further expenditure on new, compliant vehicles.

Michael Lloyd, from the company, said: “We’ve also lost a lot of value in having to dispose of our old vehicles.

“[The increase in price] will always get passed on to the customer somehow.”

Nevertheless, Mr Khan has refused to delay the expansion.

“This is a matter of life and death. We can’t afford to wait any longer,” he told BBC London.

“We need bold action to clean up London’s air.”

Some 100,000 cars, 35,000 vans and 3,000 lorries could “potentially be affected” by the new rules every day, Transport for London (TfL) has estimated.

The transport body added that more than 80% of vehicles in the wider zone will not be charged, up from 39% in February 2017 when the plans for the expansion were first announced.

Small businesses, charities and Londoners who are disabled or on low incomes can apply to TfL for a £2,000 grant if they scrap a non-compliant car and purchase a cleaner vehicle.

Those scrapping a motorcycle or moped may be eligible for a £1,000 payment.

Similar schemes for vans, minibuses and lorries have been suspended due to “unprecedented demand and limited funds”, TfL said.

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