Almost 700,000 cars facing daily charges after Ulez expansion

Protesters demonstrate against the Ulez expansion in Trafalgar Square, central London - Jamie Lorriman for The Telegraph
Protesters demonstrate against the Ulez expansion in Trafalgar Square, central London - Jamie Lorriman for The Telegraph

Nearly 700,000 cars face daily Ulez charges when the scheme is expanded, RAC data show – hitting thousands more drivers than Sadiq Khan, the London Mayor, had estimated.

The RAC found that 691,000 licensed cars in the whole of Greater London, including the expanded zone, were unlikely to meet the Ulez emissions standards.

The figure is far higher than the number of non-compliant cars the Mayor’s office estimates will be captured by the newly expanded Ulez zone.

According to traffic data, Mr Khan expects 160,000 non-compliant cars travelling in outer London. As of October last year, on average more than 50,000 non-compliant cars travelled in inner London every day.

While not all of the 691,000 cars registered in the zone will travel on every given day, the figure given by the RAC is still far higher than the 210,000 estimated by the Mayor’s office.

The Ulez zone will be expanded to cover all 32 London boroughs by the end of August. After that, drivers in outer London whose vehicles do not meet European emissions standards will have to pay £12.50 for every day they use their car within the London boundary.

Most petrol vehicles under 16 years old and diesel vehicles under six years old would usually comply with emissions standards.

To get to its figure, the RAC analysed DVLA data for all vehicles registered in Greater London and then picked out every petrol car registered before 2006 and diesel car registered before September 2015.

As of February, there were 691,559 licensed cars in the whole of Greater London, with the number rising to 851,065 when counting all vehicles such as vans. The RAC has said that the vast majority of these, as many as 645,836, would be likely to be based in outer London.

However, TfL hit back at the data and said its latest analysis of cars travelling in outer London on an average day showed that 90 per cent of all vehicles in outer London were Ulez-compliant. The Telegraph has asked for the total number of vehicles.

The latest figures highlight just how many cars will need to be replaced to reach full compliance. It comes despite Autotrader reporting in February that there were only 5,150 affordable Ulez-compliant cars costing below £5,000 currently on sale in London.

Mr Khan has launched a £110 million scrappage scheme for drivers to replace their non-existing vehicles but this is currently only open to small businesses, charities and drivers on low incomes or with disabilities. He has also introduced more than one million extra kilometres of bus routes across outer London.

His plan to expand Ulez has been met with fierce criticism in recent months, with a number of councils arguing that the scrappage scheme is too small and that access to public transport is not adequate in outer London boroughs.

Analysis by The Telegraph revealed that there were 1,000 postcodes across the expanded zone where residents had to travel more than two miles to get to their nearest tram or Tube stop.

A spokesman for the Mayor said: “The Ulez is a highly targeted scheme and the latest data from Transport for London shows 90 per cent of cars driving in outer London now meet Ulez standards.

“The Mayor expects the number of compliant vehicles to increase even further over the coming months, but he knows there is more to do to ensure every Londoner can breathe cleaner air.”