20% of car owners in clean air cities are ditching their vehicles

On the day that London's Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) expands, new research shows how such schemes can impact some of the poorest members of society...

ULEZ sign

More than a fifth of car users (20.4%) living in cities with clean air zones – like London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) – have sold or are planning to sell their vehicles due to them failing to comply with the schemes, new research suggests.

The What Car? survey of 839 motorists also found that nearly 40% of respondents’ vehicles were not compliant with the rules of their city’s clean air zones, with 18.2% saying that they would struggle to afford the daily tariff for driving in the zone, let alone to replace their vehicle.

Despite this, half of respondents living in cities with a clean air policy feel positively towards such schemes, with 38.6% feeling negative and the rest undecided. When the views of respondents who don’t live in clean air zones are also taken into account, 31.9% feel positive about their introduction and 38.1% are negative.

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From today (29 August), London’s ULEZ has expanded across Greater London. It was first introduced in 2008, while 11 other clean air zones are already in operation in cities around England and Scotland, including Bath, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Gateshead, Glasgow, Newcastle and Sheffield.

To mitigate the financial impact of the London ULEZ expansion on people and businesses, a scrappage scheme providing up to £2000 towards the cost of a replacement car was recently extended to all Londoners.

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The fact that our survey suggests more than 18% of motorists living in clean air zones could be forced off the roads by these extra charges is deeply concerning, and shows that more financial help is needed to help people replace their vehicles. However, it’s also clear that a large number of other people are supportive of the schemes given their potential to improve air quality, so this is a nuanced issue.

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