22 August, 2023

London's Ultra Low Emission Zone to expand at the end of August to include Heathrow Airport

From 29th August this year, London's controversial Ultra Low Emission Zone - ULEZ, is expanding to cover almost all of Greater London, which means it will then also include the UK's number one airport, Heathrow.  

According to Transport for London (TfL), commanded by London Mayor Sadiq Khan, the massive expansion is aimed at reducing air pollution in London and according to a spokesperson for the Labour Mayor, dealing with "issues such as the high number of deaths - up to 4,000 a year - linked to toxic air in London every year."

From 29th August vehicles entering the airport must meet certain emissions standards in order to avoid paying a daily charge.  The daily charge for non-compliant vehicles is £12.50 for most vehicles, including cars, vans, and motorcycles when driven in the new zone.  You won't be charged the daily ULEZ rate if your car is just parked at the airport, only when it is driven in, out or around the zone.

The charge will be in addition to any other fees or charges associated with entering the airport, such as the drop-off/pick up £5 flat fee or car parking charges.  Don't think you can get away with it by using Meet & Greet or Valet Parking with a non-compliant vehicle, you'll still be charged, plus if you have selected a different exit terminal to your entry terminal, you will be liable for payment of a ULEZ charge to transfer your vehicle to another terminal.

In recent days Sadiq Khan's deputy and a scientist the mayor's office helps to fund have been accused of working together in a coordinated way to try and criticise, attack and question any research that questions the effectiveness of ULEZ.

TfL and the mayor had previously been accused of misleading the public regarding the results of a 10-week consultation period which saw the younger sectors of the population of London targeted in an effort to garner more support for the expansion of the zone. Plus, according to some reports, 58,000  consultation responses were discarded, one can only surmise that might be because they didn't match Khan's narrative on the issue.   

According to Ross Lydall in the Evening Standard, between 2017 and 2022, some  56 settlement agreements, or silencing deals were signed with former staff costing taxpayers £1,068,757. Of these, the paper says, 41 staff worked directly or indirectly for Sadiq Khan. 

At this moment, it is unclear if the large number of non-compliant lorries and airport vehicles working air-side at the airport will have to pay the daily charge and airlines can breathe a sigh of relief, ULEZ only applies to vehicles driven on the roads,  not flying above them.