Merton Council has responded to last week’s decision by the Mayor of London to expand the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) London-wide, to include Merton underlining the need for an extensive scrappage scheme.
The council submitted a response to Transport for London’s consultation on expanding the ULEZ earlier this year, calling for any decision to give thorough consideration to the cost of living crisis. The council’s response also stated that if the London Mayor goes ahead with a start date of 29 August 2023, which has now been confirmed, he should not expand the scheme without generous scrappage support and without a retrofit option.
The Leader of Merton council, Councillor Ross Garrod, said: “Many of our residents are struggling to make ends meet and we were one of the first London boroughs to declare a cost of living emergency in July. This underlines the need for the biggest scrappage scheme yet, totalling £110million, announced by the Mayor of London. This is exactly what we called for in our response to the consultation if ULEZ was to be expanded, to support drivers, including key workers and people living in areas which are not well served by public transport.
“It is welcome that the exemption period is being extended for disabled drivers and community transport minibuses and new exemptions are being introduced for disabled drivers and wheelchair accessible vehicles, including those who automatically qualify for a Blue Badge. Now that the Mayor of London has made his decision to extend the ULEZ, I would encourage all residents to check that their vehicles are compliant.”
The council’s Cabinet Member for Transport, Councillor Stephen Alambritis, added: “Tackling air pollution is a priority for us and it is encouraging that residents are already switching to cleaner cars, with around 85 per cent of vehicles driving in Merton being compliant, so most drivers won’t be affected by the expansion of the zone. However, we must all do everything we can to drive down roadside pollution because poor air quality disproportionately affects our most vulnerable residents, including children, older people, and anyone with long-term health conditions. Around 60% of our borough’s nitrogen oxide is produced by road traffic, so the scrappage scheme announced by the Mayor of London will help to support more drivers to take the most polluting vehicles off our roads.
“I am very pleased that this announcement comes with a huge commitment by the Mayor to improve public transport in outer London. He has pledged to invest the money raised by the expansion of the ULEZ into improving local public transport, which is particularly needed in areas of outer London boroughs like ours, so that residents can travel more sustainably.”