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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Ross Lydall

£110m Ulez scrappage scheme launched ahead of expansion

A £110M ultra low emission zone scrappage scheme was launched on Monday – as the penalty for not paying the Ulez levy increased by £20 to £180.

About three million penalty tickets for failing to pay the £12.50-a-day charge have been issued since Mayor Sadiq Khan launched the emissions scheme, first in central London, in April 2019.

About 200,000 drivers a day are expected to have to pay the Ulez when it expands to the Greater London boundary on August 29.

The new scrappage scheme, which is targeted at Londoners on benefits, small businesses and charities, is likely to benefit up to 30,000 people.

A £61m scheme that was introduced alongside the Ulez’s previous expansion to the inner boundaries of the North and South Circular roads in October 2021 helped about 15,000 drivers but was massively oversubscribed.

Car drivers can apply for a £2,000 grant to scrap or replace a vehicle that does not comply with the Ulez exhaust emissions rules. Grants of £5,000 are available for non-compliant vans.

Up to £9,500 is available for charities wanting to switch to an electric minibus. Retro-fitting grants are also available.

Car drivers have the option of receiving a reduced grant plus either one or two annual bus passes, currently worth £932. If two bus passes are taken alongside a £1,200 grant, the total benefit would exceed £3,000.

Discounts or free rides on e-scooters, car sharing companies and Brompton bikes are also being offered to successful applicants.

Mr Khan said the scrappage scheme was designed to offer help individuals and businesses struggling most during the cost of living crisis.

He said: “I took the difficult decision to expand the Ulez because it will save lives, help tackle the climate crisis and reduce congestion. We have made huge progress in central and inner London but there is much more to do in outer London.”

But he has faced demands, including from Labour council leaders, to offer a more generous scheme or to delay the launch date of the Ulez expansion to allow Londoners more time to upgrade their car.

Petrol vehicles built before 2006 and diesels before 2016 are likely to have to pay the Ulez.

Last week the London Assembly passed an amendment to the mayor’s 2023/24 annual budget calling on him to allocate a further £100m from reserves to the scrappage scheme.

Mr Khan has to consider the proposal before finalising his budget on February 23.

At the weekend, he launched his campaign to win an unprecedented third term at City Hall – “fired the starting gun” on a 15-month re-election campaign. The election is not due until May next year.

Last week Darren Rodwell, Labour leader of Barking and Dagenham council, said there was a need for a “greater lead-in time” and a more generous scrappage scheme than the £110m currently proposed.

Labour-led Redbridge council has “shared concerns” with Transport for London about eligibility for the scrappage scheme and said small businesses and low-income households “must be appropriately supported”.

Mr Rodwell on Monday described the scrappage scheme as a “welcome step” but called on the Government to match the mayor’s funding.

About 85 per cent of vehicles driving in outer London already meet the Ulez rules. A “grace” period will give drivers holding a blue badge, or who have a wheelchair accessible vehicle, until October 2027 before they are liable to pay the Ulez. This includes people living outside London.

The Ulez expansion is predicted to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions from cars by up to 10 per cent, plus up to a 16 per cent reduction in PM2.5 particles.

Over time, the number of non-compliant vehicles in the zone each day is expected to reduce to 46,000 cars and 26,000 vans.

Mr Khan was launching the scrappage scheme at a visit to the Felix Project’s warehouse in Enfield.

The Felix Project, which is backed by the Evening Standard, collect surplus food from suppliers and redistributes it to charities, tackling both food poverty and food waste.

Rachel Ledwith, head of community engagement at the Felix Project said: “Many of the organisations who rely on food donations from The Felix Project expressed concerns about the Ulez extension as it meant higher transportation costs. I hope the scheme will benefit them.”

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