The Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) was expanded across all London boroughs this week amid much media overexcitement, with much of that attention offering a distraction from the real issues: namely the need to address carbonisation of our roads and the role that financing can play to make this a reality.
In the news this week, we’ve seen reports that the TfL number-plate checker website has crashed, images of vandalised cameras used to check compliance, articles questioning the London mayor’s motives for pushing through the ULEZ (he is filling his coffers) and another article questioning the actual health impact of expanding ULEZ (citing one dissenting scientist).
The backdrop to much of the reporting about ‘the war on motorists’ is the political dimension, with the issue seized upon by Tory stalwarts as a club with which to beat Labour following the Conservatives’ unexpected win in July’s Uxbridge byelection, a constituency affected by the extension.
In the media melee, it is easy to forget that in November 2020 the Government announced a 2-stage strategy to decarbonise cars and vans in the UK.
According to phase one, 2030 will see the end of all sales of new petrol and diesel cars and vans, whilst, in the second phase, 2035 will see new cars and vans “fully zero emission at the tailpipe”.
To drive the issue forward, the Government (then under Boris Johnson) published a “10 point plan”, backed by an initial pledge of £1.3bn to support the uptake of zero-emission vehicles across the UK, which includes investment into charging infrastructure and grants for homeowners to install charge points at home.
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What is unavoidable is that the transition to EVs is central to the Government’s efforts to meet its target of reaching net zero, yet there seems to be little mention of the 10-point plan these days.
For all the fun and games of the last week, the motor finance community wants action on the 10 points, and at least Sadiq Khan’s ULEZ expansion is in line with this direction of travel.