‘Don’t leave north Chingford outside ULEZ’, urges council

“Our strong preference is that the proposed ULEZ covers all of the borough”

By Josh Mellor, Local Democracy Reporter

(Credit: Transport for London)

North Chingford residents currently due to remain outside the expanded Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) will be brought into the fold if Waltham Forest Council gets its way.

The ULEZ zone charges drivers of outdated and more polluting vehicles £12.50 per day and is due to expand in August to include most of Greater London, ending approximately at Kings Head Hill in Chingford.

In a letter last July, recently obtained by a Freedom of Information request, the council’s deputy leader Clyde Loakes urged the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan not to let the very north of the borough “remain outside the zone”.

He argued that residents left outside ULEZ could see displaced traffic, causing more pollution and “increased parking stress”, and that it would reduce the incentive to switch to less polluting cars.

In his letter, Cllr Loakes praised the expansion as a “bold and necessary action” to cut air pollution but urged TfL to “fully explore” the option of ULEZ reaching the borough’s northern border in Epping Forest.

He said: “Residents and businesses outside the zone will not be subject to the charge (assuming non-compliance) for any journeys heading out of London and then returning without entering the expanded zone. This may have some impact on the number of people who switch to compliant vehicles.

“Our strong preference is that the proposed ULEZ covers all of the borough and we would ask that your office fully explores this option.”

Both the council and TfL claim that 15 percent of vehicles driving in outer London are not ULEZ compliant, although neither have published figures specific to Waltham Forest.

Cllr Loakes told the LDRS the council has “long argued” that ULEZ should encompass the whole of Greater London to protect more residents from pollution, citing a figure from an Imperial Collage London study estimating that 4,000 Londoners died from poor air quality in 2019 – including 116 in Waltham Forest.

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He added: “[Air pollution] also causes life-changing illnesses for countless others and leads to children growing up with stunted lungs. This demonstrates how important reducing car journeys is to improving our air quality, benefiting our personal well-being and that of our children and neighbours, as well as our local environment.”

Opponents of the ULEZ expansion often cite the financial impact on those who rely on their non-compliant vehicles, although residents on benefits, traders, small businesses and charities can apply for grants of up to £2,000 for scrapping their old cars or up to £9,500 for scrapping a van or minibus.

However, Conservative group leader Emma Best told the LDRS that Waltham Forest Labour party does not speak for Chingford residents in “begging the Mayor to place extortionate fees” on more residents.

She added: “Areas of Chingford do not have the same access to public transport as the south of the borough and many peoples’ lives here are based around travel outside of London, where public transport links are close to non-existent.

“We all want to clean the air but this must be done in a positive and effective way, not one that penalises the most vulnerable in our community.”

Responding to such criticisms, Cllr Loakes said that the council knows “some people rely on vehicles”. He added: “That’s why we continue to expand our car club offer and have installed 600 electric vehicle charging points, with a target of reaching 1,000 by the end of the year.

“Waltham Forest continues to lead London when it comes to putting in place safe infrastructure for people who want to ditch their car entirely, and saw the second-largest decrease of car ownership in the capital in 2021.”

If you want to write a letter to the editor for our next edition about the ULEZ expansion, send up to 250 words – with your full name and neighbourhood (e.g. Walthamstow, Leyton, Leytonstone or Chingford) – to [email protected].

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