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12th May 2023

Health Minister urged to support ULEZ expansion

In a letter to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, the UK Health Alliance urges him to support the London ULEZ expansion to improve the health of people living in the capital city.

Health professionals are already seeing first-hand the impacts of air pollution on health. If the issue is not urgently addressed, we face decades more of health conditions linked to breathing polluted air, with poorer outcomes for people and increasing strain on the health service.

The tragic death of nine-year old Ella Adoo Kissi-Debrah in 2013 was caused by the polluted air that she breathed near her home on London’s South Circular Road. That polluted air continues to impact the health of tens of thousands of people across the UK every year. 

Transport is one of the main sources of air pollution and greenhouse gases in the UK. Governments have recognised this and promoted the introduction of Clean Air Zones in cities from Aberdeen and Bristol to Newcastle and Gateshead.

The most robust of the clean air zones is the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in London. Since the introduction of the ULEZ in 2019 emissions of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) are estimated to have reduced by 7% across London compared to without the ULEZ and by 19% within the ULEZ. Carbon emissions have reduced by 3% across London and by 4% within the ULEZ. As a result of the fall in emissions London’s air is cleaner: nitrogen dioxide (NO2) concentrations are 21% lower in inner London than they would be without the ULEZ and 46% lower in central London. 

These falls will produce benefits to health, and the ULEZ will have contributed to a 30% reduction in children being admitted to hospital with asthma in inner London. Of the 500,000 Londoners with asthma more than half live in outer London. 

The expansion of the ULEZ to outer Londoner later this year will bring cleaner air to five million people. The evidence is clear that the ULEZ has led to cleaner air in inner London and it is right that those living in outer London should experience the same benefits. 

In the letter to the Secretary of State, we say that bold government action is needed to enable the transformation needed to get air pollution down to safer levels, and make sure every person has clean air to breathe. The ULEZ expansion is an important step to achieving this.