Bexley businesses worried ULEZ will 'wipe out trade' if pollution zone expands

"It will just totally wipe out my business that I've built up over the last three years," said one worried business owner.

Bexley business owners are worried trade could be "wiped out" if Sadiq Khan's proposed Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) expansion goes ahead next year.

London's mayor is consulting on plans to widen the ULEZ to cover most of Greater London - the same area as the current Low Emission Zone.

The plan would force drivers of primarily older vehicles that don't meet the emissions standards to pay a £12.50 daily charge to drive within the expanded zone, which worries some businesses.

'They're not going to pay £12.50'

"It will just totally wipe out my business that I've built up over the last three years because people come in from everywhere to have an afternoon tea," said Sharon Webb, owner of Greys Tea and Coffee House

"They're not going to pay £12.50 on top to come in, pay for parking and then pay for my afternoon tea as well. It's a bit expensive," Sharon explained.

Despite having a train station, many businesses rely on customers who travel by car and the prospect of an extra charge could drive them away, some fear.

"It will make a massive difference, not just to my business, to everybody's business, to the whole village," said Bexley business owner David Greenberg.

"We need people to come in, especially after Covid. It's crazy. I just think perhaps the mayor hasn't got a handle on how business is run," he added.

Blue zone show current ULEZ zone, green show current LEZ zone and proposed expanded ULEZ zone Credit: TfL

City Hall claims more than 100,000 cars and vans will be taken off London's roads each day if the zone expands.

Sadiq Khan added the expanded ULEZ zone would help in the battle against climate change and cut the sort of exhaust pollution blamed for 4,000 premature deaths in London every year.

"We want to expand the benefits that we've seen in London to the whole of London," said Seb Dance, Deputy Mayor of London for Transport.

"Why should people in outer London not have the same clean air policies that people in London have hitherto enjoyed?

"So that's really what we want to do, massively increase the benefit of reducing harmful particulate matter from vehicles," Mr Dance added.

'Taxation on the motorist'

MPs outside Greater London said many of their constituents regularly crossed the border to places like Bexley and questioned to motives to expand.

"This proposal from Sadiq Khan to expand the ULEZ scheme right out to the edge of outer London has got nothing to do with the control of pollution and everything to do with raising revenue," said Conservative MP for Dartford, Gareth Johnson.

"It's a form of taxation on the motorist and of course it's taxation primarily on people who don't even live in London.

"So this is quite literally taxation without representation," he claimed.

Sadiq Khan's public consultation ends next month and if he decides to go ahead, the expanded ULEZ zone covering all of Greater London will arrive next summer.

  • What is the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ)?

It is an area in London where drivers of older, more polluting vehicles are charged a daily fee.

  • What is the charge for non-compliant vehicles?

The daily fee is £12.50 for cars, motorcycles and vans up to 3.5 tonnes.

Heavier vehicles, including lorries, buses and coaches, are charged £100.

  • When do charges apply?

All day, every day of the year except on Christmas Day.

  • How quickly do I have to pay?

You have until midnight on the third day after the journey.

  • How do I do it?

You can pay online through TfL’s website, using the Pay to Drive in London app, or by phone.

Drivers also have the option of setting up automatic billing so they are charged monthly.

  • What happens if I do not pay?

You could be handed a Penalty Charge Notice for £160, reduced to £80 if paid within a fortnight.

  • What vehicles are affected?

It depends how much nitrogen dioxide it emits, which is generally linked to its age.

For diesel cars, most of those that meet the minimum standard were first registered after September 2015.

Compliant petrol cars are typically those registered after 2005.

  • How can I check the status of my vehicle?

Transport for London is urging people to use its online checker by clicking here.

  • Where does the money go?

TfL says the cash it receives from the ULEZ is reinvested into improving London’s transport network and to improve air quality.

It insists “we don’t make a profit” from the scheme.

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