By: Sam Doak
September 5 2023
The full document that appears to demonstrate this makes it clear that this policy has only been considered as a potential solution.
On August 29, 2023, London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) was expanded to cover all of the city’s 32 boroughs. The expansion of this initiative, which requires drivers to pay a daily charge should they enter the zone in a non-compliant vehicle, has elicited fierce criticism from its detractors. In this context, many false and misleading claims have circulated concerning the scheme’s purpose and likely outcomes.
In the same vein, a number of social media users and commentators have shared an excerpt of a document published by Transport for London, claiming it shows the ULEZ will develop into a scheme under which drivers will be charged by the mile.
The section of the document that has elicited these concerns sets out a timeline. The final entry listed is entitled “Approach 4: Next-generation charging,” which is described as “A new charging mechanism based on distance (for example, km or miles) traveled and other factors which could integrate existing/proposed schemes (including environmental RUC schemes) in a single simple, fair way.” The document appears to state that this could be introduced in 2025 or 2026.
While it is clear to see how this excerpt has convinced some that a pay-per-mile scheme is due to be introduced in London, the full document and statements from the Mayor’s Office show that this is not the case.
There are currently no approved or agreed-upon plans to introduce a pay-per-mile scheme in London. The document in question makes it clear in sections not included in the currently circulating excerpt.
In the document’s introduction section, its authors clarify that they are considering potential approaches, stating, “This early work could form the basis of future scheme development, and approaches could be adapted or refined. Any new scheme would have to be effective, simple for customers to use and fair and proportionate to its aim.”
This is further reinforced in a later section entitled “Moving Forward,” which reads, “If the potential approaches within this paper were to be developed into new scheme proposals, they are likely to require revision of the MTS as well as public and stakeholder consultation, an integrated impact assessment and compliance with other statutory procedures. Consideration would need to be given to mitigations and complementary measures, including to address impacts on people sharing protected characteristics and from low-income households.”
When asked by Energy Live News whether a pay-per-mile scheme has been decided, a spokesperson for Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, stated, “This is categorically wrong. Officials actually told ministers the opposite – there is no prospect of it being introduced in the foreseeable future.”
In a statement published on the Greater London Authority’s website, a spokesperson goes into further detail, stating, “Although TfL has outlined how it could be possible to replace existing charges with a single, simple and fair road user charging scheme in the future, the technology required for this is still some years away, and the Mayor has been clear that there are no proposals on the table for such a scheme.”
Under current plans, ULEZ is not intended to develop into a pay-per-mile scheme. While an excerpt of a document produced by TFL gives this impression, reading it in full makes it clear that this is a hypothetical solution that has not been agreed upon as a future measure. The Mayor’s office has also clarified this. This claim has, therefore, been marked as false.