The introduction of London’s Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) has already seen vehicle compliance rates improve dramatically in the first month of operation, helping to tackle air quality issues.
Launched in the central London Congestion Charging zone on 8 April, the scheme has helped drive vehicle compliance rates to 74% in a 24-hour period, and 71% in congestion charging hours – this compares to 61% in March 2019 for congestion charging hours and 39% in February 2017; some eight months prior to the launch of the T-Charge, the forerunner to the ULEZ.
The figures follow months of warnings to operators about issues with non-compliance; Manheim parent firm Cox Automotive UK outlined in November that roughly 80% of vans on the road would not be compliant in the ULEZ.
The new data also shows there were around 36,100 fewer older, more polluting, non-compliant vehicles seen in the zone on an average day (excluding non-typical days) in April 2019; a reduction of around 58% from February 2017.
Improvements in air quality already being seen include a reduction of approximately 20% in NO2 concentrations measured at roadside monitoring sites in the zone since February 2017.
Dr Penny Woods, British Lung Foundation chief executive, said: “It’s early days for the ULEZ but the evidence suggests it’s having the effect we hoped for. Fewer older, more polluting vehicles on London’s streets and a 20% reduction in health harming nitrogen dioxide will literally be a breath of fresh air for those living in, working in or visiting the zone.
“What’s needed now is the ULEZ’s expansion and for the rest of the UK to introduce similar measures. It’s terribly wrong your postcode dictates how clean the air you breathe is. After all, clean air should be as easy to access as clean water.”