Currently reading: London mayor axes plan for zero-emission zone
ZEZ would likely have charged a daily fee for driving a pure-petrol or pure-diesel car into central London

London mayor Sadiq Khan has shelved plans to introduce a zero emission zone (ZEZ) in the city centre, following yesterday’s expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ).

The ZEZ would have operated similarly to the ULEZ, charging motorists a daily toll for driving a pure-petrol or pure-diesel car into the zone.

Khan’s transport strategy, originally published in 2018, read: “A zero emission zone is likely to require vehicles that drive within it – that are not capable of operating with zero exhaust emissions – to pay road user charges (similar to those in ULEZ or LEZ).”

This leaves the door open to parallel hybrids and plug-in hybrids capable of running in electric-only mode (albeit for varying distances).

Toyota claims its systems are zero-emission for 80% of the time and 50% of the distance, although this has been disputed by Brussels-based pressure group Transport & Environment.

“Trying to pretend that standard hybrids have significant zero-emission capability is just silly," said Ralph Palmer, electric vehicles officer at T&E UK.

As for PHEVs, many new models now offer a real-world electric range north of 15 miles.

Read more: Toyota argues case for UK hybrid sales after 2030

ULEZ sign close-up pointing to Oxford Circus

Khan’s strategy noted: “It will also be necessary to use disincentives to phase out fossil fuels altogether.”

Although plans for a ZEZ have been shelved in City Hall, London boroughs are still able to introduce such measures at a local level.

A spokesperson for Khan told the Financial Times that “[Transport for London] continues to support boroughs who wish to implement zero-emission zones”.

A ZEZ was trialled along Beech Street (next to the Barbican Centre) as from March 2020 to September 2021.

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In response to a question regarding the pilot, Khan said in January that more data had been collected following the “traffic experiment” and that the City of London Corporation was due to consult on a permanent scheme in the spring. 

It decided in July not to renew the Beech Street ZEZ, noting in its report that support for it was divided: 51% of survey respondents were for the zone’s renewal, while 49% were against it. 

Of those who opposed its renewal, 49% believed that it didn't do enough to reduce traffic and 41% felt it didn't sufficiently improve air quality.

Charlie Martin

Charlie Martin Autocar
Title: Editorial Assistant, Autocar

As a reporter, Charlie plays a key role in setting the news agenda for the automotive industry. He joined Autocar in July 2022 after a nine-month stint as an apprentice with sister publication, What Car?. He's previously contributed to The Intercooler, and placed second in Hagerty’s 2019 Young Writer competition with a feature on the MG Metro 6R4

He is the proud owner of a Fiat Panda 100HP, and hopes to one day add a lightweight sports car like an Alpine A110 or a Lotus Elise S1 to his collection.

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