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Vehicle scrappage scheme must be fixed before ULEZ expansion

Monday 9 January 2023

Widening ULEZ is the right thing to do, but businesses need more help to transition to electric vehicles.

Improving air quality can only work if the ULEZ vehicle scrappage scheme is reformed.

The warning was made by the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) to the London Deputy Mayor for Transport, Seb Dance.

LCCI strongly backs Mayor Sadiq Khan’s aim to improve air quality following the decision of the south London coroner in 2020 that the death of 9 year old Ella Kissi-Debrah was due to air pollution and the evidence presented by the Mayor as to the impact of poor air quality upon death rates in the capital. Survey work by LCCI showed strong business support to improve air quality.

However, the plans to widen the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) to the whole of London by August is being linked to a vehicle scrappage scheme which needs major reform if air quality is to fully improve across the capital. Under the current plans, people on benefits and micro businesses can apply for funds to change their diesel vehicles to electric vehicles – but the scheme excludes HGVs.

The London Chamber urged the Greater London Authority and Transport for London to think again on the vehicle scrappage scheme and called for:

  • The reintroduction of the 2020 ULEZ Scrappage Scheme for HGVs, which gave grants of up to £15,000 per vehicle to help the transition to ULEZ-compliant vehicles
  • Sufficient time and financial help for SMEs to access environmentally friendly HGVs, especially as prices are rising due to the high demand for and low supply of electric and hybrid vehicles
  • The introduction of a ‘whitelist’ for businesses that can prove they have purchased and are waiting for the arrival of an environmentally friendly HGV, so that firms can continue to use their current vehicles in the meantime without being penalised – at a time when there is a shortage of electric vehicles coming onto the market due, in part, to global microchip shortages.

London Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chief Executive, Richard Burge, said:

“The issue is not the need to improve air quality, which affects all Londoners and all London businesses, but whether the vehicle scrappage scheme announced by the Mayor is fit for purpose. We accept the Mayor’s contention that central Government could be assisting in helping to fund a scrappage scheme as has occurred in the rest of the country. We would urge the Government to review their stance and help support London’s scrappage scheme. In the meantime, we urge the Greater London Authority and Transport for London to consider the recommendations of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry to improve the scrappage scheme and the operation of ULEZ so that all businesses can play their part in improving air quality”.

You can read the letter in full here.