Air Pollution and the Widespread Misinformation on It

There have been a lot of claims by Sadiq Khan about the deaths caused by air pollution in London so as to justify his expansion of the ULEZ but his claims are unsubstantiated by the evidence available.

I have a strong personal interest in this matter because my father died from lung disease (mesothelioma – a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos), my brother died from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (a lung disease for which there is no known cause) and I suffered from asthma when young due to allergies to pollen and other things. Anyone who has suffered from asthma or seen people die from lung disease will know how distressing it is.

It is known that air pollution can exacerbate asthma symptoms which I can confirm from my own personal experience but whether it can cause asthma is unclear. Even now I avoid walking behind London diesel buses! The onset of asthma can be triggered by many things and is a growing problem worldwide probably because of the change in lifestyles of the population and increased urbanisation. The largest source of air pollution is often in homes and offices and people spend more time in them and lead a sedentary life style as they become wealthier.

To attack air pollution in the hope that we can prevent all lung disease is misconceived. In particular to attack diesel/petrol cars in the hope of removing air pollution is a simplistic notion when there are multiple other sources of air pollution. If Sadiq Khan thinks he can cure his late-onset asthma (which he claims to have) then he is not living in the real world.

The air pollution sources in the UK in 2018 is given in the diagram above taken from a Public Health England report. Note that road transport only produces 12.4% of all PM 2.5 (particulate) emissions whereas residential and small commercial combustion produces 43.1%.

For London in 2019 you can refer to this report from the LAEI:

Note how over 50% of PM2.5 emissions in central London come from commercial cooking! That report also shows how emissions of particulates and NOX (nitrous oxides) have been falling rapidly across London. This is not just due to the ULEZ and Congestion Charge schemes which probably only had minor impacts but a general improvement in energy production, heating and industrial processes.

The Freedom for Drivers Foundation published this report in 2018 (revised in 2021) called “Air Quality and Vehicles: The Truth” – see Report . It provides a well-reasoned and unbiased analysis of the data unlike so many of the comments you see on this subject. The situation since it was published has no doubt improved even further.

There is simply no justification for extending the ULEZ scheme. The reduction in air pollution in Greater London would be miniscule – about 0.1% in the important PM2.5 emissions for example. Nobody is going to notice this and it won’t have any significant impact on health outcomes. See for the independent analysis commissioned by TfL (Jacobs Report).

There are many things the London Mayor and the Government could do about air pollution but expanding attacks on vehicle owners is one of the least beneficial in terms of cost/benefits. Reducing wood burning is one which the Government has recently tackled for example.

Removing air pollution might have some long-term health benefits although the likely benefit is uncertain. Removing all of it might extend life by a few days but to do that we would have to remove all road, rail and air transport, remove all domestic gas boilers, close down all restaurants, ban cooking at home, cease all agriculture, cease all new building and building renovation, close down most of industry, etc. How lunatic would such a policy be!

I am all for improving air quality where it can be achieved at reasonable cost and with no negative consequences. But expanding the ULEZ scheme will increase the cost of living for many people when they are already suffering from high inflation. It is simply unjustified and Sadiq Khan’s motivation despite his blustering about the impact on health is clearly motivated by financial imperatives.

Roger Lawson


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ULEZ – Mayor Gets Tough But Legal Case Pursued by Boroughs

The BBC have reported that Sadiq Khan has given the London boroughs opposed to the ULEZ expansion an ultimatum to agree to the installation of enforcement cameras by today or he will push ahead regardless. He claims he has the legal powers to install them. But do local councils have powers to remove them in that case?

Meanwhile the boroughs of Bexley, Bromley, Hillingdon and Harrow say they will not consent and have filed a pre-action protocol letter in anticipation of a judicial review citing these grounds:

1) They said the mayor exceeded his powers by treating the new zone as a “variation” of the existing ULEZ rather than presenting and consulting on a fresh stand-alone plan; 2) They are challenging City Hall’s estimates of how many people will be affected, along with financial analysis including the claim the new zone will raise £200m in its first year; and 3) The councils also claimed it was unlawful to exclude people living outside the capital – but driving inside – from the scrappage scheme that compensates people for getting rid of their polluting vehicles.


Comment: These claims may be correct but they need to put forward a much stronger case in my view if the ULEZ expansion is to be defeated. In summary the expansion is irrational, not justified on any cost/benefit analysis and the public consultation on it was fraudulent.

Roger Lawson


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ULEZ Demonstration Photographs

Despite the fact that the demonstration on the 28th January was postponed and we even sent out a notice of cancellation to our contacts based on what the organisers said on Facebook, there were a large number of people turned up for the event.

See photographs above which demonstrate the strength of opposition to extension of the ULEZ to outer London.

We will notify of any further such demonstrations.


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Avoiding the ULEZ and Travel Mode Trends

Several outer London boroughs say they will try to frustrate the extension of the ULEZ scheme by refusing TfL permission to put up cameras or signs. The response of the Mayor, who seems to think that he holds a “Divine Right of Mayors” to do whatever he wants, is that they can enforce it by just putting up cameras on traffic lights which they do control.

But this is not as simple as they make out. For example as a resident of Chislehurst in the London Borough of Bromley I can escape from the ghetto to reach the M20 and M25 without going through any traffic lights. I can also get into central Bromley by using alternative minor roads. In addition if TfL cannot put up warning signs it will make ULEZ penalties unenforceable.

Sadiq Khan surely needs to reconsider his plans which he is now promoting by repeatedly lying about the impact of air pollution in London on deaths. There are no deaths directly attributable to air pollution and only one where it was considered a contributory factor when the person concerned suffered from other serious medical problems.

The motivation for extending the ULEZ is clearly financial as it will have negligible impact on air pollution and all the extra cameras installed as a result will enable a road charging scheme for ALL vehicles to be introduced!

One justification given by the Mayor for the ULEZ is to reduce the increase in traffic and tackle congestion. But private car use has been falling for some years. See the chart above which gives the trends in travel modes over the last 20 years in London.

Increases in traffic congestion have been caused by reductions in road space and mismanagement of the road network by TfL.

Roger Lawson


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Legal Fundraising on ULEZ Expansion and Trafalgar Square Demo

There is a legal claim for a judicial review of the ULEZ expansion being formulated and a fund to finance the action has been set up. See

This appears to be a credible case so we recommend that you support it by making a donation as we have done. The basis of the case will be that the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, failed to take into consideration the replies to the ULEZ expansion consultation and other factors, made false statements about the expansion of the ULEZ and otherwise attempted to manipulate the results of the consultation.


Important Note: The demonstration against the ULEZ planned for the 28th January in Trafalgar Square has been postponed because of concerns on security. We will advise any new date when available.

Roger Lawson


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Campaigns Against ULEZ Expansion Increasing

The activities of campaigns against the expansion of the ULEZ to outer London are growing as people realise the financial impact it will have.

There is an active Facebook group named “Action Against ULEZ Extension” which you can join and they are promoting a demonstration in Trafalgar Square on the 28th January (Saturday) at 12.00 noon. Please attend if you can.

[Postscript: The Trafalgar Square event has had to be postponed due to concerns about security. We will advise any new date on this blog when available].

Gareth Bacon, MP for Orpington has been active in promoting opposition in South-East London, and Paul Scully, Conservative MP for Sutton and Cheam, is now raising donations to fund an opposition campaign – see:!/

Paul says “This new tax will hit thousands of hardworking people and small businesses, just when they can least afford it”. He’s certainly right there and remember it will have negligible impact on air quality. It’s just another tax to bail out Sadiq Khan’s financial mismanagement.

Roger Lawson


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The Financial Lunacy of the ULEZ Expansion

The London Evening Standard have published a good article highlighting the financial lunacy of the ULEZ scheme. By 2027 they suggest that the scheme will generate zero income even though it will cost £160 million to implement the expansion.

TfL might recover the £160m in the first year from charges but the vehicle population will rapidly become compliant and after that the cost of running the scheme might exceed income from charges on non-compliant vehicles and fines.

Of course that assumes that the vehicle standards remain the same but don’t bet on that! The Mayor could use the new cameras to impose a London-wide charging scheme on all vehicles which is clearly his ambition.

The article also reports that some boroughs may try to frustrate operation by blocking the erection of cameras which no doubt many residents of the outer London boroughs will welcome.

Comment: This is yet another example of the financial incompetence of Sadiq Khan. Spending money to enable the collection of more taxes is just another financial imposition on London residents that will increase the cost of living.

Remember there is no significant improvement in air quality from the ULEZ expansion. It’s just a money-making scheme.

Evening Standard article:

Roger Lawson


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London Air Quality and ULEZ Expansion Could Be Blocked

Sadiq Khan issued a tweet saying that “London has been ranked the 18th most polluted city in the world based on air quality, light pollution and traffic congestion”. But this is a lie and the tweet has subsequently been deleted.

London is nowhere near 18th most polluted city in the world, on any of these measures. IQair ranks London as the 3739th in the world on air pollution. It is ranked 55th out of just 404 cities on congestion, and the UN reports mean noise pollution as joint 28th out of the 61 cities measured. See for more information.

It is regrettable that Sadiq Khan and his PR team find it necessary to scare the public in this way in support of his financially driven policies to extract more taxes from Londoners. There is simply no evidence that poor air quality is a major health problem in London.

We have said before that the Government could halt the planned expansion of the ULEZ. Thanks to one of our contacts for the following explanation of the legal position:

“The root cause of the problem is the Greater London Authority Act 1999, which was created during Tony Blair’s New Labour administration, along with the devolved Scottish and Welsh administrations.

Section 295 and schedule 23 of the GLA Act 1999 enables TFL, the Mayor and London Borough Councils to enforce their road user charging schemes such as congestion charge, ULEZ etc. See:

Explanatory notes for easy read.

If you read the GLA Act 1999 carefully, the Secretary of State does have powers to veto/block road user charging schemes on the grounds of “the incompatibility is detrimental to the interests of persons resident in England outside Greater London.”

Part III, Chapter 1 and schedule 12 of the Transport Act 2000 enables local authorities outside of London (including Metro Mayors) to enforce their road user charging schemes such as Clean Air Zone (CAZ), Congestion Charge (for Cambridge) and traffic filter scheme (for Oxford)

Explanatory notes for easy read.

I have written to Mark Harper, Secretary of State for Transport, pointing out he does have the power to block the ULEZ expansion and should do so. Also I have suggested that the Government should repeal the relevant clauses from the legislations to take road user charging powers away from the Mayors and local authorities, and even make road user charging powers illegal!

With a Conservative majority in the Commons they could also repeal the GLA Act 1999 which will then abolish the Mayor of London and transfer TFL back to Government control.

Roger Lawson


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Rishi Sunak Criticises ULEZ Expansion and Scrappage Scheme Announced

At Prime Minister’s Question Time Rishi Sunak said Sadiq Khan should “listen to the public” and scrap the planned expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) to all of London. He also said that it is the “overwhelming” view of London residents that the levy should not be expanded.

My response on twitter was “Rishi Sunak and the Government have the power to stop the ULEZ expansion so why don’t they do so?”.

Scrappage Scheme

Meanwhile TfL have announced some details of a scrappage scheme to help some owners of non-ULEZ compliant vehicles. See

But it’s unlikely to help many people. Only those car owners receiving social security benefits or are registered disabled will qualify and the maximum grant is £2,000. You can’t buy a new car, or even a decent second-hand one for that money!

It may help sole traders, small businesses and charities with old diesel vans and buses where the allowance is higher.

There is also a mention of some vehicles which might qualify for a “retrofit” that will make them compliant but it seems unlikely to be of use to most owners of older diesel cars. However you can register an interest in a retrofit solution for your vehicle.

Roger Lawson


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More Comments on ULEZ Expansion

Following Sadiq Khan’s decision to expand the ULEZ to the whole of London I have had the time to read the whole report (all 300 pages of it) on which he based his decision – see link below. These are my comments on it:

Our objections were mentioned but were rejected with a trivial comment, along with all the other objections from other people and organisations.

The Mayor justifies his decision because of his commitment to have 80% of all trips in London to be made by foot, by cycle or using public transport by 2041. He also wants to go further to reduce air pollution, tackle the climate emergency and reduce traffic congestion. Comment: As already pointed out, the expanded ULEZ will have minimal impact on air pollution and will certainly have no impact on the climate or reduce traffic congestion (only a minority of vehicles are affected and their owners will just switch to newer models).

The Mayor alleges that there are 4,000 premature deaths in outer London caused by air pollution including 204 in Bromley, 201 in Barnet, 196 in Croydon, etc. These are simply estimates and bear no relation to reality. It’s ignoring the fact that outer London boroughs have less air pollution and low rates of most diseases but they do have older populations as people move out of central London to the suburbs as they grow their families or retire.  

The consultation results show overwhelming opposition to the ULEZ Expansion: 68% of respondents (when organised responses are excluded), 70% of outer London, 80% of people who work in outer London, 80% of outer London business owners.

There were a number of “organised” responses to the consultation. Apart from ones we encouraged there were ones directly promoted by Fair Fuel UK, Living Streets, London Cycling Campaign, London Friends of the Earth Network and The last one generated 4,312 emails, more than any other source, and who are they you may ask? are a part of the 10:10 Foundation, a Charitable Incorporated Organisation, with very substantial financial support from a hedge fund. Their objective is to achieve a zero-carbon world and their chairperson is an academic focussed on climate change. So much for the complaint of one MP that the consultation was being biased by pro motoring organisations – the exact opposite is the truth.

Many respondents seemed to think it was a consultation on responding to climate change with 37% of respondents saying it was Very Important to take steps to tackle climate change when the ULEZ proposal cannot have any impact on climate change as it will not affect CO2 emissions.

It is noticeable that a large proportion of the responses came from central London addresses, i.e. from people who will not be affected by the ULEZ expansion in any way. In summary there was a concerted effort by environmental activists to distort the consultation.

An article in the Daily Express suggests there will be a massive drop in used car values based on a report by Carwow. There are about 200,000 non-compliant cars that regularly drive into the affected area it notes and these will likely be sold in the next eighteen months so that drivers avoid paying over £2,000 per year to Sadiq Khan. There is still a market for such vehicles in other parts of the country but prices may well be substantially affected.

What’s our advice to those who own non-compliant cars? Don’t panic. Running an existing vehicle until next August will reduce the impact and there may be an immediate rush by some sellers that will temporarily depress prices further which already reflect the anticipated decision. For those who only use a vehicle occasionally it might be more cost effective  to retain it rather than buy a new vehicle.

There is always a chance that the implementation will be delayed or cancelled. There is a move by some outer London Councils to try and thwart the Mayor’s plans. The Secretary of State for Transport could also intervene if he had a mind to do so.

There is also a Parliamentary petition requesting the position of Mayor of London be removed – see . I suggest you sign it!

Roger Lawson

Report to the Mayor on ULEZ Expansion:


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