Hollywood royalty Leonardo DiCaprio voices his support for Sadiq Khan’s ULEZ zone expansion. Though many Londoners feel that Khan is working more for profit than he is for the planet.
Sadiq Khan announced that he will expand the ULEZ zone to cover all of Greater London from August 2023. TFL has estimated that 160,000 more cars will be responsible for paying the fee. The second-term London mayor says that an incredible five million more people will ‘breathe cleaner air’ as a result.
What is ULEZ?
It was a scheme created in 2019 as part of the plan to clean up London’s air. ULEZ stands for ‘Ultra Low Emission Zone’.
It is a charge for vehicles which don’t comply with minimum emissions standards. It costs £12.50 for non-compliant cars, smaller vans, motorbikes and other light vehicles.
Larger vehicles that don’t meet Khan’s ULEZ regulations, such as lorries, buses, and coaches owe the government £100 if they venture into London’s expanding Ultra Low Emission Zone.
London’s motorists are outraged at Sadiq Khan’s ULEZ expansion, but not surprised
Khan’s expansion of the ULEZ zone will make over a hundred thousand more drivers responsible for paying a daily fee of £12.50.
Many people are now used to additional charges and higher parking costs when visiting Central London. However, the new ULEZ regulations will affect residents living far from the bright lights of Soho and Piccadilly circus.
People in the suburbs will be forced to choose between paying the extra costs, changing to an electric car or abandoning driving altogether.
Most agree that the environment is extremely important, but the rise in the cost of living is a daily crisis confronted by many. Residents and critics believe that the purpose of Khan’s ULEZ changes is to make money, and will do little to help the environment.
Londoner Stuart Weller said that this move from Khan is done with terrible timing, and will cause more harm than good. He said, in no uncertain terms, that ‘the London Mayor is on another planet’.
Lee Roddy, 55, who works at RAF Northolt and lives in Uxbridge said: ‘It is disgraceful, particularly when the cost of living is going up. They are saying it is to protect the environment, but the real reason is to raise money’.
The London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s ULEZ clean air initiative further pollutes social inequality
For high earners, the extra costs are likely to have a minimal impact. For everyone else, it’s another deterrent from driving into the capital. Khan’s ULEZ extension has been accused by some campaigners of continuing a legacy of inequality, acting (like the congestion charge introduced in 2003) as a high-priced ticket into our nation’s capital.
Many Londoners regard it as a ‘stealth tax’. The public largely rejected the idea when surveyed. The consultation period was also criticised for offering a narrow window for public response.
In an independent report, four times the number of people said they told TFL they opposed the move rather than supported it.
Sadiq Khan’s new ULEZ expansion will cost those who drive daily an incredible £ 4,500 a year if their vehicle does not meet ‘low emission’ requirements. This is shocking when the cost of living has become unmanageable for many households. Second hand car values are also close to all time high. The price of upgrading to a ULEZ exempt vehicle will currently be beyond many motorists.
The RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes is clear on the effect Khan’s ULEZ changes will have on motorists and businesses. He called it ‘a hammer-blow for desperate drivers and companies already struggling with crippling fuel costs’.
Public health officials applaud Khan’s ULEZ decision
Mr Khan said that air pollution is making Londoners ‘sick from cradle to the grave’, with illnesses such as cancer, lung disease, dementia and asthma.
He described the new ULEZ boundaries as ‘transformational’, saying that it will mean ‘five million more people will be able to breathe cleaner air and live healthier lives’.
The chief executive of charity Asthma + Lung UK Sarah Woolnough agreed.
She describied the move as a ‘public health victory’ and a ‘huge win for everyone’s lungs. Asthma + Lung UK is delighted that the Mayor of London has listened to our campaigners’ she said. She believes the London Mayor’s changes will lead to fewer premature deaths and fewer hospital admissions due to pollution.
Leonardo Dicaprio, the climate change activist that London never asked for
Hollywood superstar Leonardo DiCaprio has come out in support of Sadiq Khan. In a recent Facebook post, he wrote that Khan’s ULEZ scheme is ‘the kind of large-scale, decisive action we need to halve emissions this decade, coupled with the implementation of nature-based solutions.’
Many point out that DiCaprio’s endorsement is highly hypocritical. Last year, news outlets reported that the actor took a jet from Miami to New York and returned the same day. Earlier this year, the UN climate change ambassador was also spotted spending time on some of the world’s biggest superyachts.
His heart is in the right place, but I wonder if he’d feel differently if he lived just outside the M25 (where the ULEZ zone is expanding to) instead of in a mansion in Hollywood?
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