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EU Urban Mobility Observatory
News article6 July 20212 min read

Expansion of London's ULEZ will help the most disadvantaged

The UK capital, London, is at the cutting edge of measures to substantially reduce air pollution. The expansion of the city's Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) will extend to its main circular roads, which means that the zone will encompass around 360 square kilometres by October 2021, and is the latest such measure.

The ULEZ, which currently covers 21 square km of the capital’s centre, requires drivers to meet strict vehicle emission standards or pay a daily charge, thus encouraging drivers to opt for more cleaner modes of transport. Drivers whose vehicles exceed the ULEZ’s emission standards must pay between £12.50 to £100, a charge that is enforced by a network of cameras across the city.

London aims to have 80% of all trips in the city on foot, or by bike or public transport by 2041. To achieve this, the UK capital has been ploughing ahead with additional measures including expanding infrastructure for these modes, which has entailed reallocating 22,000 square metres for walking and an additional 100 km of cycle routes delivered or under construction, the electrification of buses (with the aim that the entire fleet is electric by 2037), and more low traffic neighbourhoods.

The measures will protect some of London’s most disadvantaged and vulnerable citizens, who are disproportionately exposed to harmful air pollution. The expansion follows an official ruling that air pollution made a “material contribution” to the death of a London child, which marked a stark - and tragic - moment in the fight against poor air quality. As cities and regions strive to significantly reduce vehicle emissions, the judgement reinforced the necessity for rapid action.

Transport for London (TfL), the local government body responsible for London’s transport network, estimates that when combined with London’s suite of sustainable mobility policies, the ULEZ will help to avoid 1.2 million new air pollution-related hospital admissions in London by 2050. Indeed, already the number of schools facing unsafe pollution levels has dropped from 455 in 2016 to 14 in 2019, while the protected space for cycling has almost tripled.

The expansion of the ULEZ has been accompanied by a communication campaign, which aims to raise awareness of the necessary action amongst the city’s inhabitants, businesses and commuters. The Greater London Authority undertook a series of Integrated Impact Assessments and extensive stakeholder engagement meetings, workshops, focus groups and public consultations, in support of the expansion of the scheme.

Original article published by World Resources Institute news team on 11 June 2021.



Publication date
6 July 2021
  • Mobility management
  • United Kingdom