Installation of the new infrastructure for the expanded Ultra Low Emission Zone is now underway ahead of its opening in October 2021.
The scheme, which launched in April 2019, will expand to the North and South Circular, aided by the deployment of new cameras and bringing further incentives for drivers to switch away from polluting vehicles. Enforcement in the central zone is estimated to have helped reduce nitrogen dioxide by more than 40% and research from Arval has found that the enlarged charging zone, along with the introduction of Clean Air Zones in 2021, will hit around four out of 10 fleets, of which the majority expect to replace vehicles.
Cameras will play an essential role in policing the expanded ULEZ. The central zone has seen the number of vehicles meeting the tough emission standards rise from 39% in February 2017 to more than 80% now. And Transport for London (TfL) expects four out of five cars to be compliant by the time the scheme is introduced in October 2021.
While the new zone will be 18 times the size of the existing Congestion Charge and ULEZ footprint, new technology means only around 750 additional cameras will need to be installed on top of the existing 650.
To reduce the number of additional sites required, TfL is prioritising cameras at locations already used to monitor traffic, on existing lamp columns and on traffic signals.
TfL says the larger zone is vital to ensure that, as London recovers from the coronavirus pandemic, “one public health crisis is not replaced with another” but evidence is growing that air pollution and coronavirus have a link. Earlier this week, a new anti-idling campaign in London pointed to emerging research that air pollution is linked to poor recovery and higher infection rates of Covid-19 due to damage caused to the lungs.
There will be financial support available for those on low incomes, disabled Londoners and small businesses to make the transition to cleaner vehicles, backed by a £48m scrappage scheme.
To help businesses and charities prepare for the expanded zone, earlier this year the Mayor doubled the amount of money available to £7,000 for those scrapping their older more polluting vans and minibuses and changed the criteria for the size of business eligible, so that more people could benefit.
Alex Williams, TfL’s director of city planning, said: “We have already seen significant falls in the most toxic emissions in central London and now see most vehicles meeting the tough standards in the heart of the capital.
“We expect to see the benefits felt by people across the city when the zone enlarges and are providing financial support for small businesses and the most vulnerable to help them make the green transition.”