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The Expansion of London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ)
The controversial Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) scheme has recently been extended to cover all of Greater London, charging drivers of the most polluting and older vehicles £12.50 a day. Since the announcement, it has been met with much criticism from both Londoners and those living in the bordering areas of Essex, Kent and Surrey. Despite this, Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, defends the decision, citing Government figures that show a yearly 4,000 premature deaths due to air pollution in London.
Khan believes the Tory opposition to the scheme has been “everything to do with their desperate attempts to cling to power by trying to weaponise green issues”. He goes on to explain that nine out of 10 cars driven in outer London on an average day are compliant with the ULEZ scheme and drivers would not have to pay as a result.
Unfortunately, the story doesn’t end there. Reports by the Metropolitan Police reveal that 222 crimes relating to ULEZ cameras were recorded in the month leading to the expansion, with 159 cameras being stolen and another 351 damaged. This large number of offences leads one to believe that the actual number of affected cameras is even higher.
The risks associated with ULEZ expansion have prompted councils to refuse to allow ULEZ signs to be put up on their roads. Nonetheless, Mayor Khan insists that the scheme is vital to help clean up London’s air, and says he will not back down from his commitments. His message to those opposed is clear: “Division is both their strategy and overriding priority”.
So far, London remains one of the few cities with a pollution charge and part of Mayor Khan’s green agenda, but it is unclear what will happen to those who cannot pay the ULEZ charge, or the lasting effects this expansion can have on the capital’s economy. Only time will tell if this measure is an effective solution to the poor air quality in London and how it will impact the public in the long run