Public consultation was held on ULEZ expansion proposals

22 February 2023
What was claimed

ULEZ must be blocked because there has been no public consultation.

Our verdict

A public consultation was held last year on the proposals to expand the ULEZ to cover all of Greater London.

A Facebook post claims that “ULEZ must be blocked because there has been no public consultation and no mandate.”

The ultra low emission zone (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 city’s North and South Circular Roads, but is set to be expanded to cover the entire Greater London area from 29 August 2023.

This expansion has been the subject of criticism from various groups, including motorists, business owners and local councils, since plans were announced in March 2022.

However, it is not accurate to say that there was “no public consultation” on the proposals.

Misleading claims about the political process behind the ULEZ expansion, which we’ve written about previously, can damage trust in politics and harm public debate.

Honesty in public debate matters

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The consultation

An online consultation open to members of the public was held by Transport for London between 20 May and 29 July 2022, the results of which were published in a report to the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, in November.

This consisted of a range of qualitative and quantitative survey questions, with the majority of those who responded to a question on whether they felt the ULEZ expansion should go ahead in August saying the proposals should not be implemented.

There have since been allegations from the Conservatives that the consultation responses were not fairly presented. Full Fact hasn’t verified these, and a spokesperson for Mr Khan said at the time that “any suggestion that TfL or the mayor has sought to influence the results of the Ulez consultation is simply untrue”. However, challenges to the findings of the consultation don’t take away from the fact that there was a public consultation.  

As the consultation was open to all who wished to respond, it’s worth noting that responses to the public consultation do not necessarily represent the views of Londoners in general, or businesses in general.

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, at some point though not necessarily when proposed. The second poll, which was commissioned by the Greater London Authority Conservatives and asked a differently worded question which was subsequently disputed by the Mayor’s office, reported in November 2022 that 51% of respondents said the ULEZ should not be expanded.

Wider expansion not part of Mr Khan’s manifesto

The Facebook post also claims there is no mandate for ULEZ expansion. 

During his 2021 re-election campaign, Mr Khan did pledge to expand the ULEZ to cover all areas within, but not including, London’s North and South Circular Roads.

This expansion came into force on 25 October 2021.

However, plans to expand the ULEZ to cover the whole of Greater London weren’t referenced in his manifesto, though it did state: “Beyond the expansion of ULEZ, I’ll monitor all existing road-charging schemes to ensure they continue to bring the maximum benefits of improved air quality and reduced congestion, and I’ll identify where further action is needed to eradicate hotspots for air pollution.”

Image courtesy of Maxpinsoo

Update 24 February 2023

We’ve updated this piece to add further context about Mr Khan’s 2021 manifesto commitments and the two YouGov polls.

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