The ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) expansion will be ‘for tradespeople’s own good’, urged the mayor of London.
Construction workers will “take off less time from work” due to poor health from air pollution, leading to greater productivity, said Sadiq Khan.
The scheme, coming into effect across all London boroughs from 29 August, includes a £12.50 daily fee for non-compliant vehicles.
Those that fail to pay the charge could face a fine of up to £160.
This extends to diesel vans registered before September 2016 and petrol vans registered before January 2006.
The Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) said the ruling was “bad news” for London’s building industry and that livelihoods are “at risk”.
CEO John Newcomb urged a 12-month delay to the expansion to allow firms to prepare and secure compliant vehicles.
The Door & Hardware Federation (DHF) said ULEZ will “seriously impact” the income of construction businesses at a time of high costs and project delays and cancellations.
But Mr Khan told The Clive Holland Show on Fix Radio it is in tradespeople’s interests to buy ULEZ compliant vehicles because it will lead to less time off work from sickness due to air pollution.
He added firms can receive up to £7,000 for every non-compliant van they register with his scrappage scheme, or £6,000 support towards retrofitting their vehicle.
“The first thing to recognise is […] tradespeople are concerned about the amount of congestion on our roads,” said Mr Khan. “What we want to do is take off our roads cars that don’t need to be there. So those people who need to be driving […] can do so without being stuck in traffic. By having more people walk, cycle and use public transport, it means less time stuck in traffic and leads to greater productivity.
“We have been listening to some of the concerns raised by people who use a van. My scrappage scheme – which gives £5,000 towards scrapping a van – we have been told is not enough, because to buy a new van, you cannot buy a decent van for £5,000 that is ULEZ compliant. What I am announcing […] is an extension of the amount of money that is received – from £5,000 to £7,000 for every van you have. But I recognise that there are some small businesses which have more than one van that is not ULEZ compliant, so I am giving those small businesses […] up to £21,000 to scrap three vans.
“I have been told by tradespeople who have retrofitted their vehicle that … I give them £5,000 support towards retrofitting … it actually costs a bit more than that. So, I am announcing […] £6,000 support towards retrofitting your van.
“If you are […] driving a car that has to pay the ULEZ charge, it means you are driving a vehicle where you are breathing in more poison than you should be. You should want to be driving a cleaner vehicle, you should want to be driving a ULEZ compliant vehicle because it reduces your life expectancy and makes it more likely rather than less likely, you will get asthma, dementia, heart disease or cancer.”
Mr Khan added: “I understand it is particularly difficult now. Tradespeople are taking time off work because of asthma and other health related issues caused by respiratory conditions. It is in tradespeople’s interests to be having vehicles that are compliant because it means they take off less time from work by being unwell because of air pollution.”
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