ULEZ under fire as two-thirds of Londoners believe scheme is a ‘cash grab’

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London’s flagship anti-air pollution Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), first launched in April 2019, has been slated as a ‘money-grabbing scheme’ and a means of targeting motorists going about their daily lives.

Despite living within the capital, residents can face the £12.50 daily charge by just driving to the local supermarket if their pre-2015 registered diesel or pre-2006 registered petrol car doesn’t meet the strict Euro IV and Euro VI emissions standards enforced throughout the city, whilst the cost for operators of larger vehicles is higher still.

Two months after the recent expansion of the ULEZ in October, which sees it now covering 18 times its original area up to (but not including) the North and South Circular roads, vehicle finance company Carvine conducted a survey to find out what Londoners think about the scheme. Of the 3,800 survey respondents, 62% said they believed the scheme is financially motivated, whereas just 38% concluded that ULEZ is beneficial to Londoners as a whole.

Carvine said that an estimated £130m was spent to install the additional network of 750 number plate recognition cameras, in addition to the 650 already in place to detect non-compliant vehicles driving through the zone that have failed to pay the levy, whilst lower-income households are struggling to afford vehicles that are exempt from the emissions penalty. As a result, it said, many poorer drivers are being priced off the road.

Within ULEZ’s first year of operation, and at a time when Transport for London finances are in trouble, Carvine noted that the ULEZ earned London an extra £107m compared to the previous year.