On 26 March, The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, confirmed the introduction of the world’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), and welcomed an increased fund of £65 million to help support London taxi drivers’ transition to zero emission capable taxis.
Following a positive consultation process, the ULEZ will launch in central London on 7 September 2020, significantly improving air quality and helping to protect the health of Londoners. It will require vehicles travelling in the Congestion Charge Zone of central London to meet new emission standards 24/7 or pay a daily charge.
An extra £25 million from Government will be used to provide grants to help taxi drivers cover the cost of upgrading to a greener vehicle. This is in addition to £40 million already committed by the Mayor to assist taxi drivers whose vehicles would be affected by tighter age limits to retire the oldest, most polluting taxis.
The Mayor today joined the Prime Minister at the London Taxi Company factory in Coventry, which has confirmed plans to produce new zero emission capable taxis in the UK. Boris Johnson reiterated his commitment that from January 2018 all new taxis and all private hire vehicles under eighteen months old presented for licensing in the capital for the first time should be zero emission capable.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “The world’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone is an essential measure to help improve air quality in our city, protect the health of Londoners, and lengthen our lead as the greatest city on earth. With additional funds announced today, more help is on the way for taxi drivers to support their transition to the latest technology in greener cabs. Together we can ensure everyone who lives, works in, or visits our city has the cleanest possible air to breathe.”
Prime Minister David Cameron said: “I welcome this announcement which is a world first and great news for London, helping to enhance the quality of life and creating opportunities for companies who develop and manufacture this kind of technology. This will build on the UK’s strengths in low emission technology and the Government is backing this initiative with £25 million of support.”
Today’s new funds bring the total available to assist the taxi trade’s transition to greener taxis across the city to £65 million.
Also part of today’s announcement, is the £20 million Taxi scheme announced by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles in April 2014. Local authorities, including London, can now bid for additional funding to help support the adoption of ultra low emission taxis and mini-cabs. This is in addition to £10 million provided in the National Infrastructure Plan to support a new rapid charging network in London for electric vehicles including taxis.
Business Minister, Matthew Hancock said: “Low emission vehicles are a massively exciting new technology that will suit Londoners down to the ground. These new taxis have got fantastic potential and can be a real force for good within the capital. Londoners have always led the charge on new technology and I have no doubt that the new taxi will find its natural home in the capital. We will continue to champion this new green technology so that our capital is cleaner and we can help ease the commute for more people.”
By 2020, in addition to the ULEZ, Transport for London is committed to ensuring all 300 single decker buses operating in central London are zero emission (e.g. electric), and all 3,000 double deck buses will be hybrid including 800 of the Mayor’s New Routemaster.
In light of the new funds announced today, the Mayor has asked TfL to undertake further engagement with the taxi and private hire trade before finalising his plans to change the licensing requirements for these vehicles. The final package of measures is expected to be confirmed in the summer.
The full ULEZ package is expected to halve emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx) and particulate matter (PM10) from vehicle exhausts in central London. More than 80 per cent of central London would be expected to meet the nitrogen dioxide (NO2) annual EU legal limits in 2020. The number of people living in areas of poor air quality (where levels of NO2 exceed legal limits) would reduce by 74 per cent in central London, 51 per cent in inner London and 43 per cent in outer London. It will also encourage the use of more sustainable forms of transport, and provide a stimulus to the ‘green economy’ in particular the development of ultra low emission technology and vehicles.
Transport for London (TfL) will continue to lobby the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) for further funding from its £500 million funding pot to support the uptake of zero emission capable vehicles and put in place supporting charging infrastructure. This includes applying for funding from the new national £20m pot specifically for taxis and private hire vehicles, announced today.
Detailed plans for the new rapid charging network in London, on which TfL is working closely with key stakeholders, including boroughs and taxi and private hire trade organisations, are expected to be published later this year.
Michèle Dix, TfL’s Managing Director responsible for ULEZ, said: “London’s air quality has an impact on the health of every person living in this city which is why addressing emissions from road transport is such a priority. The ULEZ is a feasible and effective way to improve air quality not only in central London but it will also have a positive impact across the whole city too. We believe that giving owners of non-compliant vehicles more than five years to prepare means that they have fair warning to decide whether to change their vehicle to one that meets the emissions standards of the zone or pay a daily charge.”
The ULEZ will require:
- Cars and small vans – Euro 6 for diesel engines (registered from 1 September 2015 so 5 years old or less in 2020) and Euro 4 for petrol engines (registered from 1 January 2006 so 14 years old or less in 2020). Non-compliant vehicles could still drive in the zone but they will be required to pay a daily charge of £12.50;
- Large vans and minibuses – Euro 6 for diesel engines (registered from 1 September 2016 so 4 years old or less in 2020) and Euro 4 for petrol engines (registered from 1 January 2007 so 13 years old or less in 2020). Non-compliant vehicles will be required to pay a daily charge of £12.50;
- Heavy goods vehicles, buses and coaches – Euro VI (registered from 1 January 2014 so 6 years old or less in 2020 except TfL buses which are required to meet a higher standard). Non- compliant vehicles will be required to pay a daily charge of £100;
- Motorcycles and similar vehicles – Euro 3 (registered from 1 July 2007 so 13 years old or less in 2020). Non-compliant vehicles will be required to pay a daily charge of £12.50.
The announcement follows careful consideration of over 16,000 responses received during the ULEZ consultation from the public, businesses and stakeholders. Seventy nine per cent of respondents said it was ‘important’ or ‘very important’ to tackle poor air quality in London and 58 per cent said they ‘support’ or ‘strongly support’ the introduction of the ULEZ.
The Mayor and TfL have intentionally confirmed the emission standards over five years in advance of the introduction of the ULEZ in September 2020 to give sufficient warning and preparation time to affected drivers as well as to accelerate the take up of low emission vehicles and stimulate the low emission vehicle market. Residents living in the Ultra Low Emission Zone will have a three year ‘sunset period’, meaning that they do not need to comply with the emissions standards until September 2023.
Following the consultation, the Mayor today announced that vehicles adapted for disabled people will also have a three year ‘sunset period’, meaning that they do not need to comply with the emissions standards until September 2023. He has also confirmed that vehicles in the 40 year rolling vehicle tax exemption for classic vehicles will be exempt from the ULEZ standards.