Daily Mail corrects column on opposition to ULEZ expansion

6 February 2023
What was claimed

A public consultation by Transport for London in November showed 80% opposition to the expansion of London’s ultra low emission zone.

Our verdict

The Daily Mail has confirmed this figure refers only to public consultation respondents who identified themselves as business owners in outer London. Overall, around 60% of total respondents opposed the expansion, although the consultation’s results are not representative of the London population.

“It’s no wonder, then, that a public consultation by TfL in November showed 80% opposition to the expansion”.

A column published in the Daily Mail (in print and online) last week claimed that a public consultation on London’s ultra low emission zone (ULEZ) “showed 80% opposition” to the planned expansion of the zone.

We contacted the Daily Mail about this figure, and were told the column focussed on the impact of the ULEZ expansion on businesses, and that the 80% figure referred to opposition from business owners. A spokesperson for the paper acknowledged that this could have been made clearer in the article. The Daily Mail has since amended the online article and published a correction in the newspaper.

The ULEZ is an area in London where owners of vehicles which don’t match specific emissions standards must pay to drive. The zone currently covers all areas within the North and South Circular Roads, but is set to be expanded to cover the entire Greater London area from 29 August 2023.

The online public consultation, which the Daily Mail article referenced, was held by Transport for London (TfL), and the results published in November 2022.

Out of a total 57,937 responses, 48,028 responses to a closed-ended survey question on when, if at all, the expansion should be implemented, were reported.  

Overall, 59% of respondents to this question said that the expansion should not be implemented, rising to 80% of business owners and 79% of workers in outer London (the area affected by the expansion).

There have been allegations that some responses on this point were excluded, which we’ve not verified, but the claimed impact would not have significantly impacted the overall result of around 60% being against expansion (it’s alleged that had these responses been included, the results would have shown 62% opposition).  

It’s worth noting that responses to the public consultation do not necessarily represent the views of Londoners in general, or businesses in general. So it’s fair to say that 80% of outer London business owners who responded to the consultation were opposed to the expansion, but not that 80% of outer London businesses overall were opposed. 

Two separate YouGov polls which were conducted to be representative of London’s adult population offered contrasting results on support for the proposals.

One of the polls, commissioned by the Mayor’s office, reported in July 2022 that 51% of Londoners supported the ULEZ expansion while the second poll, commissioned by the Greater London Authority Conservatives, reported in November 2022 that 51% of respondents said the ULEZ should not be expanded).

As well as being conducted at different times, the two polls also used different question wording which may account for some of the variance in the results. 

The poll finding a majority in favour framed the zone expansion as an effort to “to tackle air pollution in the capital”, and allowed respondents to say whether they supported implementation earlier than planned, as planner or later than planned. Fifty-one percent of respondents picked one of those three options.

Meanwhile, the poll which found a majority against ULEZ expansion framed the plan as a way “to generate additional revenue for Transport for London”, specified the cost of £12.50 and simply asked respondents whether it should be expanded or not, rather than offering the option that it should be expanded but at a later date.

Image courtesy of Benjamin Davies

We took a stand for good information.

As detailed in our fact check, the Daily Mail amended its online article and published a correction in the paper. 

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