With the Ultra Low-Emission Zone goes live in London from today, discussion has been raging as to whether the charge is counter-productive, and even fit for purpose before it has even taken effect.
The £11.50 a day charge will no doubt create a massive financial burden on poorer families who live inside the zone. In fact some of London's lowest paid workers could be stung for around £4,000 per year. This will undoubtedly hit those who do shift work, are emplpyed by the emergency services, or people such as nurses who have to work erratic shifts and or on relatively low pay. Private hire drivers will also have to pay the charge should their vehicle be below compliance level. At the moment the taxi industry is currently exempt from the charge but this may change in the future. The haulage industry has also been massively hit with a potential £100 per day charge to enter the zone. Currently the ULEZ will affect approximately 400,000 cars within the zone and thousands of lorries entering the area, and is expected to gain whopping £220m for TfL, although it is believed that the charge will make no profit for TfL, and will be used in the administration of the charge The enormous financial burden for some of London's lowest paid workers could be exacerbated as operators, who see this as an unfair tax, look to pass on costs to consumers. Critics of the ULEZ scheme have claimed that the entire is ill-conceived and premature in its implementation. It is believed that whilst many applaud the mayors stance on tackling pollution and congestion, there are serious concerns over the lack of infrastructure to enable individuals and companies to switch across to greener vehicles. Other concerns raised are that while there has been a reduction in the number of vehicles entering London over the last few years, congestion and pollution has risen, with varying road management schemes being identified as a major contributing factor. With the mayor insisting London "accelerates" toward the utopian goal of a zero-emmission capital, without an adequate infrastructure, why would anybody attempt to opt for a green option given the financial and logistical constraints. It is highly doubtful that London’s charging network, nor vehicle manufacturers, worldwide, are able to live-up to the mayor's ambitions to turn London emmission free. With ULEZ being expanded across London as well as it being in its current format, it is highly likely that many people could lose their jobs as businesses look to relocate away from London on the basis of commercial viability.
Ultimately the electric vehicle revolution could end up being seen as nothing more than an act of hubris by a mayor wishing to leave his mark on the London landscape.