The landscaping industry has just two weeks until the Mayor of London’s expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) across all London boroughs comes into effect.
Sadiq Khan is ploughing ahead with the expansion of the scheme across Greater London, despite the Labour party scrapping its own commitment to introducing clean-air zones such as ULEZ across the UK. Its draft policy handbook seemingly no longer includes support for the zones after Khan’s refusal to drop or delay the expansion was blamed for the party’s defeat in the Uxbridge & South Ruislip local by-election last month.
Continuing with the expansion plans “was a difficult decision,” says Khan, but he said he is “not prepared to step back, delay or water down vital green policies like ULEZ” as part of his pledge to tackle air pollution in London. However, Labour leader Kier Starmer has said there are “other ways” to achieve cleaner air that won’t leave Londoners so out of pocket.
Trade radio station Fix Radio says Khan’s plans to expand the ULEZ, which comes into effect on 29 August, could result in 21 workdays being lost for London-based tradespeople, with nearly a quarter (23%) saying the expansion, alongside the introduction of ‘Transit Tax’, has had a detrimental impact on their business.
The expansion plans will see drivers in Greater London having to pay £12.50 a day if their vehicles do not meet certain green requirements. Responding to concerns over the impact such charges could have on businesses, Khan announced he would be adding to the scrappage scheme to help drivers switch to greener vehicles, bringing the total investment to £160m so far, which the Mayor’s office is touting as ‘the most generous scrappage scheme ever seen in the UK’.
It includes grants of up to £2,000 being available to every Londoner with a non ULEZ-compliant car or motorcycle. Small businesses and sole traders will also be able to receive up to £21,000 in grants to scrap up to three vans from 21 August.
Michael Lloyd of the Federation of Small Businesses said these changes “will make a real difference to many small businesses and sole traders in the capital” but the association is pushing for communication of the funds to be “small business friendly”.
“Learning from our experiences with other major public policy and scheme changes, we will continue to make the case that the Mayor and TfL should adopt a ‘safe harbour’ approach to early stages of the ULEZ expansion, prioritising supporting compliance,” says Lloyd.
Fix Radio broadcaster Clive Holland says tradespeople are being “victimised” though, with a series of hard-hitting legislation as well as the cost-of-living crisis taking its toll. “When the ban on red diesel came, the ULEZ extension, the general taxation of vehicles and the electric vans requirement, they are all burdens to tradespeople which seriously affects their income. It is not only happening in London it’s happening in cities around the UK including Birmingham and Bath; the tradesperson who is going about their daily job I think is being victimised. Particularly at this time with Brits battling inflation and recession it means that customers are turning down jobs because they can’t afford it and tradespeople are encountering extra fees, such as the ULEZ charge which makes jobs less desirable.”