More than 120,000 drivers have avoided paying fines for breaking new Ultra Low Emissions Zone rules, after October’s mega-expansion of the scheme.
TfL has now admitted that an amnesty was in place for the first month of Sadiq Khan ’s expanded ULEZ, with warning notices handed out instead of fines of up to £160.
The Mayor had previously refused to comment on rumours that an amnesty was in place, telling journalists: “If there was an amnesty I wouldn’t tell you, would I?”
121,200 warning notices were issued by TfL in the month to 21 November – representing £9.7m in lost fines.
READ MORE: Mayor refuses to say if drivers will have fines amnesty in first weeks
It follows ULEZ being expanded on 25 October to cover the area inside the North and South Circular roads, a whopping 18 times bigger than before.
The highest number of warnings were handed out on the the first day of the ULEZ expansion, with 12,560 issued.
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From now on, anyone in non-compliant vehicles who fails to pay £12.50 will be hit with £80 fines, going up to £160 if they don’t pay up within two weeks.
TfL has also revealed that the numbers of vehicles complying with ULEZ is far higher than expected – hitting the transport body’s coffers hard.
The Mayor-led authority had initially predicted around 135,000 polluting vehicles a day would pay the £12.50-a-day fee.
But new figures show that on average in November, just 77,000 non-compliant vehicles a day were found in the expanded zone. Just 59 per cent had to pay a charge – and no one was fined for their first offence.
Ninety-two per cent of vehicles were compliant with the strict emissions standards in the first month, up from 87 per cent in the two weeks before the scheme was launched.
The higher compliance rates could leave a £33m-a-month hole in TfL’s expected income from the ULEZ, with fewer drivers needing to pay the £12.50-a-day charge.
Reports last month suggested TfL would generate £600m less than expected over the next three years, due to high levels of ULEZ compliance.
But transport bosses and the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan have welcomed the high levels of compliance as a boost to Londoners’ air quality.
Mr Khan said the high compliance rate “shows how bold action reaps rewards on air quality and climate change.”
He added: “Just one month after expanding the world’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone, we have seen a significant reduction in the number of older, more polluting vehicles driving in our capital. This is vitally important because toxic air is an invisible killer, responsible for one of the biggest public health crises of our generation.”
Alex Williams, TfL’s director of city planning, said: “We are delighted to see such high levels of compliance with ULEZ standards, a month after the zone expanded.”
Toxic roadside nitrogen dioxide pollution has fallen by nearly half in central London since ULEZ was first introduced in 2019.
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