Thousands more drivers will be hit by Ulez expansion to Greater London boundary, new figures suggest

 (ES Composite)
(ES Composite)

Thousands more cars than previously thought will be liable to pay the Ulez when it expands across Greater London, new data has suggested.

A Transport for London analysis found that 16 per cent – more than one in six – of vehicles registered in the outer London area due to be included in the widened Ulez zone from August 29 did not meet the Mayor’s exhaust emissions rules.

The average compliance rate across outer London was 84 per cent, for the period to the end of 2022.

In some boroughs it was even lower – 81 per cent in Kingston, 82 per cent in Hounslow and 83 per cent in Sutton, Merton, Harrow, Havering and Hillingdon.

Compliance in Bromley and Croydon was 84 per cent, and in Bexley and Ealing it was 85 per cent.

The figures are based on a TfL analysis of vehicle registration data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The figures emerged as Sadiq Khan and the City Hall Conservatives clashed at Mayor’s Question Time over the number of Londoners who will be affected by the Ulez expansion.

Mr Khan has previously said that nine in 10 cars in outer London were compliant.

He said that data gathered from Transport for London’s automatic numberplate reading (ANPR) cameras showed there were about 200,000 non-compliant vehicles a day in the outer London zone.

But Tory assembly member Susan Hall accused the Mayor of using “inaccurate” figures that underestimated the impact of the Ulez expansion.

She said the SMMT data showed that boroughs such as Harrow and Sutton each had 16,000 non-compliant vehicles.

She said: “These vehicles almost certainly belong to hard-working Londoners, who don’t have as much money as some. They are going to be put in a dire situation because of this.”

Drivers of non-compliant vehicles – typically diesels built before 2016 and petrol vehicles before 2005 - have to pay £12.50 for each day they enter or drive within the Ulez zone.

Mr Khan said £20m of funds from his £110m scrappage scheme had been paid out to date, helping low-income Londoners, small businesses and charities to upgrade their vehicles.

He said poor Londoners were “least likely to own a car” but the most likely to suffer from the effects of toxic air, and said expanding the Ulez during a cost of living crisis had been a “tough decision”, but was a “crucial part” of making the city healthier.

There has been an ongoing row about the number of Londoners affected by the Ulez. Earlier this year the RAC published figures from the DVLA showing that up to 697,000 non-compliant vehicles were registered to London postcodes - though this includes some addresses outside the Greater London boundary.

TfL said it was “reassuring” that the latest SMMT data showed a “significant increase” in compliance rates for cars registered to addresses in outer London, from 75 per cent in late 2021 to 84 per cent in late 2022.

It said the SMMT data included vehicles registered but not necessarily kept or driven in London (such as fleets of company cars).

Nor does it include vehicles driven in London butare registered elsewhere.

TfL said: “This is why TfL uses the camera network to gauge the compliance of the vehicles observed driving on London’s roads now, with nine out of 10 cars seen driving in outer London and nearly eight out of ten vans on an average day meeting the standard.”

TfL said its ANPR data was the “only data set that gives a robust and accurate picture of how many vehicles are regularly driven in London - including vehicles that travel into the city from outside the boundary”.

It said compliance rates of vehicles registered in the capital had never been used to measure the impact of the Ulez and have “always had lower rates of compliance than observed vehicles”.