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Builders set to be clobbered by London ULEZ expansion

The building trade is warning that inside the M25 could become a no-go area for many smaller firms.

The capital's ultra-low emissions zone is being extended across outer London boroughs, The Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) has written to the mayor of London expressing its concern that Greater London may become an area in which many small builders may be unable or unwilling to trade following the expansion of the ultra-low emission zone in August.

The capital's ultra-low emissions zone (ULEZ) is set to be expanded on 29th August, imposing a £12.50 daily charge on non-compliant vehicles across all London boroughs. This means that anyone using a diesel van registered before September 2016 or a petrol van registered before January 2006 will be charged to travel almost anywhere within the M25.

BMF chief executive John Newcomb described the expansion as “punitive and misguided". He said: “This is likely to impact SME tradespeople operating within the M25 as a significant proportion rely on non-compliant vehicles for their work. We can foresee a reluctance on their part to accept new work within the Greater London boundary.

“This will have a knock-on effect for end customers, who will find it more difficult and costly to get work done. It will also affect sales turnover at merchant outlets within the new boundary, which will have consequences on the amounts of stock held and on their staffing levels.”

In a letter to mayor of London Sadiq Khan, he said: “For local builders and property repair firms, additional ULEZ charges will have a hugely significant impact. The overwhelming majority are SMEs that already face inflationary price rises, squeezed margins & contractual pressures.”

He warned that it would lead to delays and cancellations of building works because of higher input prices and cost uncertainty.

Travis Perkins chief operating officer Frank Elkins said: “Although we fully appreciate the need to drive the impact of emissions down across the whole country, we are asking for more time for residents, tradespersons and workers to be able to adapt.”

Selco chief executive Howard Luft said: “The proposed ULEZ expansion will hurt the residents, workers and tradespeople of London alike, at a time when many are already experiencing great financial hardship with the current cost of living crisis in the UK.”

Shanker Patel, chief executive of Lords Builders Merchants, which has 13 branches employing 300 staff across Greater London, said: “We believe the introduction of the ULEZ extension will hurt the very people it is designed to assist. Transport for London should look to delay the introduction until such time as the current high level of inflation reduces, so those affected can afford to change their vehicles.”

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