Monday, October 25, 2021

Expansion of London ULEZ is Potentially a Premonition for the Future

With Electrification Policy so Road Charging is Likely to Follow
Shipping News Feature

UK – Today heralded a major shift for motorists on the roads of the capital as London's Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) expanded to eighteen times its former size. The zone now includes the areas inside the North and South Circular roads whereas previously it had the same boundary as the Congestion charge.

This sea change may well be a portent of the future as the electrification of the entire transport sector, actively encouraged by government, expands in all sectors, from private cars, through small and medium delivery vans and right up to HGVs, particularly those on urban cycle works.

The loss of revenue to central government should this policy prove as successful as hoped, will surely prompt a revolutionary shift to road pricing of one sort or another as vehicle and fuel duty revenues plummet The first stage would be to levy fees on polluting vehicles until a tipping point is reached. When revenue falls to an unsustainable level then surely wholesale mileage rates will be introduced using existing or future technologies. 

The ULEZ is designed to remove the threats of CO2 and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), largely emitted by older diesel vehicles, or if one is more cynical, to simply raise funds for Transport for London, which loses money hand over fist partly due to the Mayor’s restriction of public transport fares. Speaking to the BBC the man himself said of the changes:

“With the expanded scheme we will reduce the amount of carbon being emitted by more than 100 tonnes, that’s about 60,000 vehicles being taken off the roads. For me, this is an issue of social justice. Who do we think suffers the worst consequences of toxic air?

“It is the poorest Londoners least likely to own a car. Six out of ten in the expanded area don't even own a car. The area we are going to be covering, the population of almost four million, is twice the size of Paris, eight times the size of Manchester. Doing nothing is not an option.”

So as COP26 opens in Glasgow at least one city in the UK is taking action to clean the air, or earn some cash, dependent on your viewpoint. One company which has commented on the effect of the change is Maidenhead based KURA, which supplies transport for workers and schools. CEO Geoffrey Ryan said:

“The expansion of the ULEZ will have lasting implications for London commuters and businesses alike. Especially as we also continue to see rising costs of public transport, London businesses must start taking action now if they want to continue to attract and retain the same calibre of employees, particularly those that commute from London districts that will now fall into the ULEZ.

“Employers should be exploring new ways to encourage and facilitate alternative forms of commuting, whether that be through shared transport or subsidising other forms of travel, with the overall goal being to reduce low-occupancy car usage and help make the commute safer, more affordable and environmentally-friendly.

”The majority of privately owned cars will be exempt from the ULEZ charge, meaning congestion will remain an issue for many, especially where the morning commute and school run collide. If we are to solve the issue of congestion and pollution in city-centres we must offer sufficient alternatives to entice commuters out of cars. The Councils and Local Mayors are providing the stick, but employers need to provide the carrot.”

The penalties for entering the ULEZ in a proscribed vehicle are severe, set at £160 for each transgression with the opportunity to cut the cost in half if paid within 14 days. All vehicles from mopeds through motorhomes and ambulances up to 3.5 tonnes GVW and minibuses of 5 tonnes or less are liable for the charges.

Checks to see if a particular vehicle complies with the ULEZ can be made HERE.