**Sadiq Khan Expands Grant Scheme for London’s Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ)**
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has announced the expansion of the grant scheme for the city’s ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) to cover households with heavily polluting vehicles. The decision comes after intense pressure over the political fallout of the plan. The revised proposals also include increased scrappage payments for non-compliant vans, minibuses, and wheelchair-accessible vehicles. This article explores the details of the expanded ULEZ grant scheme and the political context surrounding it.
**Expansion of ULEZ and Political Pressure**
The ULEZ scheme, which charges owners of older, more polluting vehicles £12.50 a day to drive within the zone, was implemented in central London in 2019 and expanded to inner boroughs two years later. However, plans to extend it to all 32 London boroughs on August 29th have faced significant opposition. Critics argue that outer areas rely more on cars and have less dense public transport options.
The unexpected narrow win of the Conservatives in last month’s Uxbridge byelection was attributed by many, including Keir Starmer and his shadow team, to Khan’s ULEZ expansion plan. The political pressure mounted on Khan following his unsuccessful bid for Boris Johnson’s old seat. Rishi Sunak’s government and several Tory MPs have also criticized the timing of the ULEZ expansion, citing cost-of-living pressures.
**Enhanced Scrappage Programme**
To address the political pressure and reduce opposition to the ULEZ expansion, Sadiq Khan has expanded the grant scheme. The previously available £110m has been increased to £160m, with the additional funding coming from city hall reserves. Under the enhanced program, everyone in London with a non-compliant vehicle is now eligible for the £2,000 scrappage grant, removing the previous requirement of receiving certain benefits.
According to Khan’s officials, the £2,000 grant is sufficient, as there are nearly 5,000 ULEZ-compliant cars available for sale within 200 miles of central London. The revised proposals also include higher scrappage payments for non-compliant vans, minibuses, and wheelchair-accessible vehicles. Sole traders and businesses with fewer than 50 staff can now claim up to £7,000 for each van they replace, while the maximum grant for replacing a minibus has risen to £9,000. Retrofit grants for vans and minibuses have also been increased.
**Positive Impact and Public Health Considerations**
Sadiq Khan and his officials are hopeful that the additional funding for the grant scheme will help alleviate political pressure and divert media focus away from the ULEZ expansion. They argue that about 90% of cars used in outer London are already compliant with ULEZ standards. The scheme primarily affects fairly old petrol cars, with most built less than 16 years ago already compliant. However, the compliance period for diesel vehicles is shorter, with only those built within the past six years meeting ULEZ requirements.
Despite facing pressure to reconsider the ULEZ expansion, Khan remains committed to implementing the expanded zone without delay. He emphasizes the significant public health consequences of vehicle pollution and highlights the role of ULEZ in cleaning up the city’s air and combating the climate crisis. With London being directly elected, Khan maintains authority over the ULEZ implementation, and his response to Londoners’ concerns includes the increased scrappage scheme grants.
Sadiq Khan’s decision to expand the grant scheme for London’s ultra-low emission zone addresses the political fallout of the ULEZ expansion plan. The enhanced scrappage programme provides increased grants for replacing non-compliant vehicles, benefiting households, sole traders, and small businesses. While facing criticism and pressure, Khan remains committed to implementing ULEZ to combat vehicle pollution and its adverse effects on public health and the climate.