London’s air quality has improved significantly in recent years and is now considered compliant for all but one air pollutant for which the European Union has set legal limits. This pollutant is nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which has impacts on public health. London is currently in breach of legal limits. An equivalent of 4,300 deaths in London is attributed to air quality related illness. The Capital also faces challenging targets to mitigate the effects of climate change.
This means further action is needed to reduce air pollutant and CO2 emissions from transport to improve quality of life and public health. In recognition of this, the Mayor and Transport for London (TfL) have developed a proposal for an Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in central London.
The ULEZ would require all vehicles driving in central London to meet new exhaust emission standards (ULEZ standards). The ULEZ would take effect from 7 September 2020, and apply 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. A vehicle that does not meet the ULEZ standards could still be driven in central London but a daily charge would have to have been paid to do so.
The ULEZ would include additional requirements for TfL buses, taxis (black cabs) and private hire vehicles (PHVs):
A requirement that all taxis and new private hire vehicles presented for licensing from 2018 would need to be zero emission capable
A reduction in the age limit for all non zero emission capable taxis from 2020 from 15 to 10 years (irrespective of date of licensing)
Investment in the TfL bus fleet so that all double deck buses operating in central London will be hybrid and all single deck buses will be zero emission (at source) by 2020.