The world’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) came into force in London on Monday 8 April.

Shortly after it came into operation in London the Mayor, Sadiq Khan, revealed it has already reduced harmful pollution levels.

The Mayor’s office reported that concentrations of roadside N02 have been reduced in the zone by 20% and the scheme, which started on 8 April, is predicted to reduce it by 45% eventually.

The ULEZ is central to London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s plans to improve the health of Londoners by reducing pollution, which has been linked to the early deaths of many people.

Most vehicles driving in the ULEZ will need to meet new, tighter emission standards or pay a daily charge to travel within the area.

Motorists driving older and dirtier vehicles will be charged an extra £12.50 to enter central London. Petrol cars older than 13 years and diesels older than four years will be hit by the levy.

For the first two and a half years the ULEZ will cover the same area as London’s existing congestion charge, but in October 2021 will be expanded to the entirety of the inner city, out to the north and south circular roads.

But unlike the congestion charge, which costs drivers £11.50 between 7am and 6pm on weekdays, the ULEZ levy is in force 24 hours a day.

All vehicle types apart from black taxis are liable for the ULEZ charge unless they meet certain emissions standards or exemptions. Non-compliant lorries, buses and coaches face a £100 daily fee.

The ULEZ will help reduce emissions and it is hoped it will protect Londoners from lung damage, reduce the risk of breathing illnesses and heart disease in adults, and improve the health of people exposed to the highest levels of pollution.

More than 18,000 Londoners responded to the Mayor’s public consultation on ULEZ, with nearly 60 per cent (11,041) strongly supporting the principle of ULEZ.

The ULEZ is one of the many actions being taken to clean up London’s air. It follows action already taken to tackle the most polluting cars and improvements to London’s bus and taxi fleet including:

• ensuring all new double-decker buses are hybrid, hydrogen or electric from 2018.
• bringing in 12 low emission bus zones in some of London’s worst polluted ‘hotspots’ by the end of 2019.
• upgrading 5,000 older buses to be ultra low emission by October 2020.

The ULEZ is expected to contribute to improved air quality for people in London and reduce exhaust Nitrogen Oxide emissions by up to 45%.

British Heart Foundation has it welcomed the new vehicle charging zone and urges other cities to follow, the charity’s chief executive, Simon Gillespie said: “The ULEZ will help reduce the levels of dangerous pollutants in the air Londoners breathe and crucially, it will help to protect the health of the most vulnerable people across the capital,”

“Air pollution is a major threat to the UK’s health, and contributes to thousands of heart attacks and strokes every year. BHF-funded research has shown that tiny particles emitted from diesel vehicles can enter our bloodstream and silently damage our heart and circulatory systems.

“We now need to see other cities across the UK following suit, and more ambitious plans put in place nationally and locally to ensure that everyone gets the right to breathe air that won’t harm them. We need to see this action as soon as possible, beginning with the adoption of World Health Organisation (WHO) air pollution limits into UK law.”