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Ulez expansion: 45% fewer ‘dirty’ vehicles now on London’s roads, says TfL

Sadiq Khan hails ‘huge progress’ as progress report finds more than 95% of vehicles are now compliant

The number of the most polluting vehicles driven in London has fallen by almost half since the capital’s ultra-low emission zone (Ulez) was expanded, taking almost 80,000 older cars off the roads.

About 77,000, or 45%, fewer non-compliant cars and vans were detected on average a day in September, the first month of operation of the expanded zone – compared with June 2023.

Only 5% of the vehicles driven in London are now non-compliant and potentially liable to pay the £12.50 daily charge, according to a progress report from the capital’s transport authorities.

The London mayor, Sadiq Khan, who faced intense opposition from parts of the media and Conservative-led councils in outer boroughs when extending the Ulez on 29 August to cover the whole of Greater London, said that the figures were “testament to the huge progress we’ve made in tackling toxic air pollution”.

Vehicles that do not meet the zone’s limits on exhaust emissions – broadly petrol cars from before 2005 and diesels before 2015 – have to pay £12.50 to drive in the zone.

Transport for London (TfL) said that the scheme was proving “highly effective”, and that more than 95% of vehicles were now compliant – including more than 96% of cars and 86% of vans in the outer London boroughs, compared with 85% in May 2022 when the expansion plan was announced.

In the first month, 57,800 vehicles on average paid the charge each day, with most of the other 36,000 non-compliant vehicles registered for a temporary discount or exemption.

About 10% would, however, have been liable to pay – and although TfL has not released the figures, limited data suggests the capital could now be issuing penalties worth a total of almost £500,000 daily.

The first fines, or penalty charge notices (PCNs), were issued from 26 September, and the 13,480 PCNs issued over the five recorded days could total £2,424,400, although most fines are halved if paid promptly.

TfL sent nearly 40,000 warning letters in the first week of operation for contraventions and potential genuine mistakes, and 2,000 to 3,000 more daily for a further three weeks before issuing fines.

TfL and Khan have said any net revenue raised through the Ulez will be reinvested into public transport, including the expansion of bus services in outer London.

Khan added: “I’ve always said that the decision to expand the Ulez was very difficult, but a month on from the expansion we can already see that it is working. London is now home to the world’s largest clean air zone. This will make a huge difference to the lives and health of Londoners.”

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