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

Charlie plays a key role in setting the news agenda for the automotive industry, having 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 MG Metro 6R4 feature

Before he joined the automotive media, Charlie studied History at the University of Winchester, where he specialised in the impact of more accessible mobility on 20th Century Europe. 

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

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