Support for Ulez strongly determined by political leaning, poll finds

A new poll has found that support or opposition to the Ulez is strongly determined by political allegiance  (Yau Ming Low/Alamy/PA)
A new poll has found that support or opposition to the Ulez is strongly determined by political allegiance (Yau Ming Low/Alamy/PA)

A small majority of Londoners are in favour of the Ulez – in contrast to a lack of support in the rest of the country, a poll revealed on Friday.

There was a clearer divide along party lines, with Labour, Lib-Dem and Green voters all backing clean air zones – while Tories were strongly opposed.

The findings may offer some reassurance to Mayor Sadiq Khan after it emerged that thousands more car-owning residents in outer London will be hit by his Ulez expansion than previously thought.

Mr Khan wants to expand the Ulez to the Greater London boundary on August 29, though a High Court challenge in July could derail his plans.

Latest figures published by Transport for London reveal that 84 per cent of cars registered to an address in the outer London expansion area comply with the Ulez exhaust emission rules – meaning 16 per cent, or one in six cars, will be liable to pay the £12.50 charge for each day they drive within the zone.

Compliance rates are lowest in Kingston (81 per cent) followed by Hounslow (82 per cent) and 83 per cent in Sutton, Merton, Harrow, Havering and Hillingdon.

According to BBC London, this means that there are 280,000 non-compliant cars registered in outer London – well above the figure of 200,000 “circulating vehicles” frequently used by Mr Khan and TfL.

The online poll of 2,017 British adults, including 269 Londoners, was commissioned by More in Common, the campaign group set up in memory of murdered Labour MP Jo Cox.

Respondents were asked last week whether they supported low emission zones, where drivers of the most polluting cars or vans have to pay a fee, in their local area.

Overall, 31 per cent of Britons supported Ulez schemes and 39 per cent were opposed.

But among Londoners there was 39 per cent support and 35 per cent opposition, with 21 per cent neither in favour nor opposed. Five per cent didn’t know.

The survey did not ask specifically about the Ulez expansion but rather sought to test support for Ulez schemes in general.

Levels of support differed widely according to how respondents voted in the 2019 General Election.

Tory voters were 25 per cent in favour but 55 per cent opposed – which explains why all candidates vying for the Tory mayoral nomination have vowed to axe the Ulez expansion if elected next May.

But Labour voters backed Ulez schemes by 40 per cent to 33 per cent, as did Lib-Dems (42/33 per cent) and Greens (49/27 per cent).

Most of the Ulez opposition came from people who drove to work (43 per cent). Only 27 per cent of people who used public transport or cycled to work were opposed.

Luke Tryl, UK director of More in Common, said: “While visible and vocal opposition to Ulez charges can often dominate the headlines, our polling suggests Londoners remain more likely to back the plans than not.

“The problem is that despite the broad consensus on the need to tackle air pollution, the Mayor’s all-or-nothing approach appears to have totally polarised the debate, with Labour voters backing the plans but Tory voters dead against them.

“That level of partisan division over Ulez suggests it will be a major factor in the next mayoral election, and mayors in other cities and regions will be looking closely at what happens before embarking on their own plans.”