SME fleets and businesses operating in and around London will need to consider vehicle choice and fitness for purpose.
The London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, is considering a series of new measures to reduce car use by 27% and reduce the toxicity of London’s air.
The proposals are slated for introduction in May 2024.
Also included in the proposals, produced in a report by consultancy firm Element Energy, is the consideration for road user charging based on miles covered and graded by the vehicle’s pollution levels.
Among the options under consideration are:
- Extending the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) even further to tackle more of the dirtiest vehicles: extending the current zone beyond the north and south circular roads to cover the whole of Greater London, using the current charge level and emissions standards.
- Modifying the ULEZ to make it even more impactful in reducing emissions: building on the existing scheme by extending it to cover the whole of Greater London and adding a small clean air charge for all but the cleanest vehicles.
- A small clean air charge: a low-level daily charge across all of Greater London for all but the cleanest vehicles to nudge behaviour and reduce the number of short journeys by car
- Introducing a Greater London boundary charge, which would charge a small fee to non-London registered vehicles entering Greater London, responding to the increase in cars from outside London travelling into the city seen in recent years.
The Mayor said that the proposals were needed to make London net-zero by 2030. They required a significant shift from vehicle to use to greater use of public transport, more active travel (walking and cycling) and cleaner vehicles.
The capital city had seen a significant rise in vehicle use post pandemic with rising levels of pollution and congestion estimated to have cost £5bn in 2021.
Commenting on the report, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said:
This new report must act as a stark wake-up call for the Government on the need to provide much greater support to reduce carbon emissions in London. It’s clear the scale of the challenge means we can’t do everything alone.
But I’m not willing to stand by and wait when there’s more we can do in London that could make a big difference. We simply don’t have time to waste. The climate emergency means we only have a small window of opportunity left to reduce carbon emissions to help save the planet, and, despite the world-leading progress we have made over the last few years, there is still far too much toxic air pollution permanently damaging the lungs of young Londoners.
This is also a matter of social justice – with air pollution hitting the poorest communities the hardest. Londoners on lower incomes are more likely to live in areas of the city most badly affected by air pollution and least likely to own a car. Nearly half of Londoners don’t own a car, but they are disproportionally feeling the damaging consequences polluting vehicles are causing.
We have too often seen measures to tackle air pollution and the climate emergency delayed around the world because it’s viewed as being too hard or politically inconvenient, but I’m not willing to put off action we have the ability to implement here in London. I’m determined that we continue to be doers, not delayers – not only to protect Londoners’ health right now, but for the sake of future generations to come.
The report said that a new kind of road user charging system would be required by the end of the decade. Such a system would abolish all existing road user charges – such as the Congestion Charge and ULEZ – and replace them with a “simple and fair scheme” where drivers pay per mile, with different rates depending on how polluting vehicles are, the level of congestion in the area and access to public transport.
Gerry Keaney, the Chief Executive of trade association the BVRLA, welcomed the Mayor’s announcement, saying it complemented the association’s own ongoing support for shared mobility models and its desire to see a clear road pricing roadmap.
London does not only have an emissions problem, it has a congestion problem too. We need fewer, cleaner private cars on the road. Car clubs, alongside rental and leased vehicles provide the solution to this while keep people mobile and offering positive alternatives to public transport.
Main photo credit: Greater London Authority.