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NFDA says ULEZ expansion proposals are 'wrong move at the wrong time'

Ultra low emission zone sign

Transport for London’s (TfL) plans to expand its Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) have been branded the “wrong move at the wrong time” by the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA).

The organisation has responded to a consultation on plans to expand the ULEZ to cover almost the whole of the capital from August 29, 2023.

The consultation also focuses on a possible road pricing scheme in the capital. This could include scrapping existing charges, such as the congestion charge, and replacing them with a single road user charging scheme.

NFDA believes that the extension of the ULEZ could have a “disproportional and adverse” effect on London’s most deprived communities and motorists. It adds that while it understands the importance of tackling air pollution in the capital, it believes the ULEZ expansion proposal in its current form has flaws around the issues of finance, scrappage, environmental benefits and transparency.

Sue Robinson, chief executive of the NFDA, said: “We would urge TfL to work with relevant automotive industry stakeholders in exploring other policy tools which can be utilised to improve the quality of air within the capital as extending the ULEZ boundary is the wrong move at the wrong time.”

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, says that expanding the ULEZ London-wide will have the biggest effect on emissions relative to the cost to Londoners as a whole, as well as helping to tackle the climate emergency and traffic congestion.

The current £12.50 daily charge level for cars, vans and motorbikes that do not meet the standards would be retained.

If a larger zone were introduced, TfL estimates that the number of cars not meeting the tough ULEZ standards each day in outer London would fall from 160,000 to 46,000 and the number of vans from 42,000 to 26,000.

Robinson added: “Although action to counter London’s air pollution is necessary, the proposed extension of the ULEZ scheme is being brought through with little consideration to affected stakeholders. The additional cost to some of London’s poorest communities will push some families over the brink and force a reduction in their access to private mobility, this in the backdrop of Britain’s worst cost of living crises, which hasn’t been fully considered by TfL. 

“The TfL has yet to provide a detailed plan for its scrappage scheme, which it argues will support less-affluent motorists in ensuring their vehicles are compliant with ULEZ. The lack of transparency around this, the benefit the expansion will have, and the justification for the expansion all cast doubts in many affected stakeholders’ minds.”

One-in-three (36%) Londoners plan to sell their vehicle in the next six months due to the proposed ULEZ extension alongside the rising cost of living, research has found.

Research commissioned by Motorway has revealed that Londoners are growing increasingly concerned about the expansion, with three-in-five (60%) admitting they are worried about how it will affect their finances.

However, two thirds (67%) of those surveyed said they can’t afford to switch to an electric vehicle (EV) or compliant petrol car.

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