Ulez: Cost of expanding zone could cost £130m, Sadiq Khan confirms

SOURCE: https://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/ulez-cost-london-one-hundred-thirty-million-pounds-sadiq-khan-b944516.html

The cost of expanding the ultra-low emission zone could reach £130m, Sadiq Khan has confirmed.

A network of 750 cameras–400 in the enlarged zone and 350 on its new boundary–is being built to detect drivers of non-compliant vehicles who have failed to pay the £12.50 daily levy.

This is in addition to the 650 cameras already in place in central London for the congestion charge and the original Ulez, which shares the same boundaries as the C-zone. Each new camera site costs £10,000 to £15,000, though sometimes more.

Details of the latest Ulez costs emerged as the Mayor answered a series of written questions from Tory members of the London Assembly.

These also revealed that Mr Khan had turned down a request for disabled Londoners with a blue badge to be exempted from paying the Ulez.

But he said he had “no plans” to expand the zone beyond its new boundaries, which reach up to the North and South Circular roads. The extension to the suburbs starts on October 25. The Green party has called for the Ulez to cover all of Greater London.

Mr Khan said Transport for London was due to spend “between £120-£130m” by October including on “signs, cameras and back office systems needed to make the scheme operational”.

He said the infrastructure was being delivered in the “most cost-effective way possible” and said the total cost included staff costs and “improved access to public transport”.

The costs have previously been estimated at £90m-£130m, though it could raise up to £2m a day as about a fifth of vehicles in the enlarged zone currently breach its emissions rules.

Most petrol vehicles more than 15 years old and diesel vehicles more than five years old are liable for the 24/7 levy.

The income will be reinvested in TfL but Mr Khan said: “I would strongly prefer all vehicles driving in the zone to be compliant with the schemes’ standards rather than pay the charge.”

Mr Khan was asked whether he would adopt a proposal from Action Disability Kensington & Chelsea to allow disabled people with a Blue Badge the same exemptions for the Ulez as for the C-charge.

But he replied that the Ulez was different to the C-charge “because only drivers of vehicles that do not meet the emission standards need to pay the charge”.

He added: “There is no exemption, discount or sunset period for Blue Badge holders for Ulez because they can use a range of vehicles.”

Mr Khan has previously sparked controversy when he suggested that Londoners with vehicles that breached the Ulez rules should simply buy a newer model.

Last week he said there was less than £12m left in his scrappage schemes and admitted the cash would run out within weeks.

Emma Best, a Tory member of the London Assembly who questioned the Mayor, said: “Expanding the Ulez won’t only hit struggling Londoners, charities and businesses, but it also comes with a huge hidden cost for the taxpayer as well.

“There’s a real risk that the cost of expanding Ulez could run even higher. Many Londoners will only make short journeys within the zone, and if the Mayor plans to catch them all, he may need even more cameras.

“With the vast majority of uncompliant vehicles expected to be off the road by 2030 at the latest, it also begs the question of what happens with this huge investment in Ulez cameras in the future.”

Alex Williams, TfL’s director of city planning, said: “London’s toxic air damages children’s lungs and causes thousands of unnecessary deaths. That’s why it is vital we expand the Ultra Low Emission Zone. It is expected that when the zone is expanded up to, but not including, the North and South circular harmful NOx emissions from vehicles will fall by around 30 per cent across the capital.

“Cameras play an essential role in the scheme’s effectiveness, with nitrogen dioxide pollution already slashed by nearly half in the centre of the city. Large numbers of people are making the green transition ahead of the expansion. In inner London we are seeing more than 80 per cent of cars now meeting the tough pollution standards.”