LONDON’s mayor announced increased financial support for owners of more polluting vehicles impacted by his contentious extension of a daily charge when driving them in the British capital.
Labour’s Sadiq Khan insisted the politically charged expansion of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) would go ahead as planned on August 29, after the High Court ruled last week that it had been done lawfully.
The scheme — first introduced in 2019 and separate from London’s two-decades-old congestion charge — requires the most polluting vehicles to pay a £12.50 toll on days they are driven within the inner city.
Its extension to all of Greater London later this month has prompted a fierce backlash from many living in and around the newly encompassed areas, who face fines of up to £160 for each day they fail to pay.
It was widely blamed for costing the main opposition Labour party victory in a by-election last month in former prime minister Boris Johnson’s old parliamentary seat, where it become the main issue during the campaign.
In a sign of the political pressure mounting on the mayor, he said grants of up to £2,000 to scrap non-compliant vehicles would now be made available to every Londoner.
That support had previously been restricted to certain residents, such as those claiming some benefits.
The under-fire Khan also announced that the scrappage payment for vans will increase from £5,000 to £7,000, and that small businesses and sole traders will be able to scrap three vans or minibuses.
Charities will be able to receive up to £27,000 in grants to scrap up to three minibuses.
“I have always said that expanding the ULEZ to the whole of London was a difficult decision, and not one I took lightly — but it’s a decision I remain committed to seeing through,” Khan said in a statement announcing the new support.
“I’m not prepared to step back, delay or water down vital green policies like ULEZ, which will not only save lives and protect children’s lungs by cleaning up our polluted air but help us to fight the climate crisis.”