DEBATE: Should the ULEZ be expanded?

Frances Buckingham and Louie French

July 25, 2022

Frances Buckingham, sustainability consultant for Mums for Lungs, argues YES

London’s dirty air contributed to the deaths of more than 4,000 Londoners in 2019. The greatest number of deaths are in outer London due to the higher proportion of older people, who are more vulnerable to the impacts of air pollution.

Research by UNICEF found that local authorities with the highest proportion of babies often had PM2.5 levels, also known as fine particulate matter, well above WHO recommended limits. Many of these are boroughs outside the current ULEZ, including Barking & Dagenham, Merton, Hounslow and Brent. Damage from air pollution occurs across a lifetime, from gestation through to adulthood.

All residents of London should have the freedom to breathe cleaner air.

Clean air zones are one of the most effective ways to reduce air pollution. Removing the most polluting cars from the road will deliver immediate health, climate and economic benefits. For example, analysis by CBI Economics estimates that a 10 µg/m3 reduction in London’s NO2 would bring £48 million to the economy each year.

The central London ULEZ has contributed to a  44 per cent reduction in harmful roadside nitrogen dioxide concentrations, a 27 per cent reduction in fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and a 6 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions.

The ULEZ, its expansion and other air quality policies could save the NHS and the social care system up to £5 billion and prevent more than one million air pollution-related hospital admissions over the next 30 years. The NHS is under severe pressure, and we can’t afford for air pollution levels to remain so high.

We can choose to drive freely, or we can choose the freedom to breathe cleaner air. As mothers of young children, of a generation who have grown up breathing toxic air, yes, we need an expanded ULEZ. However, we also need much more, including stricter air pollution limits, better funded public transport, well-designed implemented cycle and active travel routes and an adequately funded diesel scrappage scheme.

Louie French, Conservative MP for Old Bexley and Sidcup, argues NO

I believe strongly that ULEZ should not be expanded.

Under Sadiq Khan’s latest plans for expansion, all of Greater London, including Bexley would fall into the ULEZ by August 2023.

For Old Bexley and Sidcup residents, this means paying £12.50 per day and £4,500 per year for driving within the constituency or anywhere in Greater London if you drive an older car with a penalty charge of £180 per time.

The Mayor of London has not only asked TfL to consult on expanding ULEZ to Greater London, but also to develop a proposal for future road user charges. This leads to the concern of once the cameras are in place, who’s vehicles will be taxed next?

Whilst I believe action must be taken to tackle air pollution and I welcome the Government’s action on this, there is no clear evidence that the expanded ULEZ will improve air quality in outer London boroughs like Bexley. On the contrary, these plans are yet another attack on outer London areas like Bexley by the Mayor of London and a way for him to fill the black hole he has made in Transport for London’s finances, despite billions in bailouts from central government and an 8.8 per cent increase in his share of our council taxes.

If Sadiq Khan wanted to help tackle air pollution, the £400m forecast to be spent on cameras should be invested to support people with the transition, including the installation of more electric vehicle charging points and proper scrappage schemes. There should also be a review into the impact of the Mayor’s road closures on increasing traffic and emissions across London.

Bexley and outer London boroughs do not have the same transport options and connectivity as Central London so it is extremely unfair the Mayor of London is proposing this expansion. The proposals would hit local businesses, key workers and families in Bexley who cannot afford a new car.


Written by Frances Buckingham and Louie French

Frances Buckingham is a sustainability consultant supporting the campaigning group Mums for Lungs. Louie French is the Conservative MP for Old Bexley & Sidcup.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Capitalism and freedom are under attack. If you support 1828’s work, help us champion freedom by donating here.

Keep Reading



Sign up today to receive exclusive insights