Here’s a riddle: what is four letters, shut for Christmas and grew 18 times in size over the weekend? Why, it’s London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone.
From this morning, drivers of petrol and diesel cars that fail to meet new standards are subject to a £12.50 daily charge to drive anywhere within the North and South Circular Roads. As a car-less resident of zone 2 myself, that might as well be the universe.
The reasoning behind the expansion is to clean up London’s toxic air. Poor air quality gushing from older internal combustion engines spew out Nitrous oxide and particulate matter which contribute to health conditions ranging from asthma and strokes to heart disease and cancers.
There is also a social justice element to the policy. Because it is London’s most disadvantaged communities that suffer the worst consequences of air pollution and its associated health effects.
I take it as a personal affront that, despite writing about the Ulez in leader columns and in this newsletter for the best part of a year, more than half of motorists in and around the capital are unaware of its introduction.
If that is not a hard-headed public policy case for City Hall throwing more subscribers my way, I don’t know what is. If you (or more realistically a friend) have any clean burning questions about the Ulez, we answer them all here.
110,000 vehicles a day are thought likely to have to pay — bringing in a much-needed £1.4m. But much like other sin taxes, from booze and cigarettes to the
sugar tax soft drinks industry levy, public health officials would prefer you change your behaviour than cough up.
In the comment pages, and trust me I’ve been trying to make a Suez/Sewage Crisis pun work all day, Susannah Butter asks why we can’t find a solution to the crisis in our rivers and beaches?
And finally, Brewdog, Britain’s largest craft beer producer, has revealed plans for a giant venue inside a transformed Waterloo Eurostar terminal replete with a pub, pop-up food truck, cocktail bar, bowling alley and slide to get between levels.
PS, if you felt today’s subject line could have been improved upon, you had your chance.
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