The Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) could be extended to cover all the Greater London boroughs and the commuter belt in 2023.
Mayor Sadiq Khan announced on Friday 4 March that he has asked Transport for London (TfL) to consult on expanding ULEZ to tackle increasing air pollution and congestion.
TfL already expanded the ULEZ by 18 times its original size from October 2021, affecting approximately 100,000 cars, 35,000 vans and 3,000 lorries.
Khan said: “We simply don’t have time to waste. We only have a small window of opportunity left to reduce carbon emissions to help save the planet.
“There is still far too much toxic air pollution permanently damaging the lungs of young Londoners and leading to thousands of deaths every year, with the greatest number of deaths attributable to air pollution in outer London boroughs.
“I’m determined that we continue to be doers, not delayers in London – not only to protect Londoners’ health right now, but for the sake of future generations to come.”
The daily ULEZ charge for cars, smaller vans, motorbikes and other lighter vehicles is £12.50.
The mayor’s plan has been welcomed by health and environmental campaigners, including the family of Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, a nine-year-old girl who died in 2013 from an asthma attack partially caused by air pollution exposure.
Ella’s mother, Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, said: “In the inquest into my daughter’s death the coroner was very clear that the pollution on the south circular is what started Ella’s asthma and ultimately contributed to her death.
“By taking action and expanding the ULEZ to include the south circular and the whole of London, people will be encouraged to get rid of their dirty vehicles, and children like Ella will breathe more easily and have a better quality of life.”
In his speech, the mayor argued air pollution hits the poorest communities hardest, with those not owning a car disproportionately feeling the damaging impact of polluting vehicles.
Some organisations, including Dogs on the Streets, have criticised the ULEZ scheme for hindering charitable work across the city.
However, most charities are exempt from ULEZ charges and the mayor proposed in his keynote speech to introduce the biggest scrappage scheme feasible to help London businesses and those on low incomes.
So far, £61 million in funding has gone towards a number of scrappage schemes helping organisations to dispose of older, more polluting vehicles.