The Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in London raised £224.6m last year, according to figures obtained by the BBC.
Approximately one-third of the money (£73.3m) came from penalty charge notices (PCNs), with the rest from daily charge payments (£151.3m) – an average of £18.7m a month.
Any vehicle driven within the ULEZ must meet emission standards, or pay a £12.50 daily charge. Failure to pay incurs a PCN of £180, although this figure is reduced to £90 if paid within a fortnight.
Transport for London (TfL) said the revenue is being used to cover “set-up costs” for the forthcoming ULEZ expansion to Greater London on August 29 and “running and improving” the rest of London’s transport network.
A spokeswoman for mayor Sadiq Khan said: “The ULEZ is not designed to be a money-making scheme and within a few years, as compliance increases, it will make a net loss – any net proceeds are ring-fenced and reinvested into London’s transport network.”
The ULEZ was launched in April 2019, covering the same area as the existing central London Congestion Charge zone. In October 2021, the zone expanded to reach the North and South Circular roads.
According to the Evening Standard, it was shortly after that expansion, in December 2021, when the ULEZ generated its highest amount of money in a single month – reportedly taking in close to £28m.
Since then however, the income has steadily declined due to people making the transition to low-emission vehicles, said TfL.
Nick Rogers, City Hall Conservatives transport spokesperson, said: “Sadiq Khan’s ULEZ expansion takes money from charities, small businesses and people on low incomes, while doing next to nothing to improve air quality.
“The figures released show once again that Sadiq Khan is more interested in making money than he is in tackling air pollution.”
Khan said that the ULEZ expansion will allow five million Londoners to breathe cleaner air, and save lives in the process.
A £110m scrappage scheme was put in place earlier this year to enable small businesses, charities and Londoners on low incomes to apply for grants towards the cost of ULEZ-compliant vehicles.
Rogers’ claim that the expansion will do “next to nothing to improve air quality” is in reference to an official assessment report on the impact of the expanded ULEZ, carried out by Jacobs.
It said that the “proposed scheme is modelled to result in a minor reduction (-1.3%) in the average exposure of the population of Greater London to nitrogen dioxide [NO2] and negligible reductions (-0.1%) in average exposure to particulate matter”.
City Hall has previously responded to that point by saying it is “important to understand the impact of this policy in absolute terms”.
“For example, although NO2 concentration reductions are smaller in percentage terms than for the central London ULEZ, in absolute terms there is a much larger volume of NOx emissions saved equating to 362 tonnes. This is in comparison to the 240 tonnes saving we saw in central London,” a City Hall spokesperson said.