Keir Starmer ditches plan for Ulez-style clean air zone rollout across the UK

Sir Keir Starmer

Sir Keir Starmer has reportedly ditched clean air zone plans

Felix Reeves

By Felix Reeves

Published: 14/08/2023

- 09:01

Updated: 21/08/2023

- 12:16

There had been plans for Labour to roll out clean air zones across the country to reduce emissions

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has moved away from the party’s commitment to rolling out clean air zones across the country.

The Labour party had previously backed the Ulez-style zones where drivers are charged if their vehicles’ release a high level of emissions.

Members of Labour had placed blame on London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone for the party’s loss in the Uxbridge by-election last month.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has refused to back down from the proposed expansion at the end of August, despite pressure from all sides.

A clean air zone sign

A number of clean air zones are already in operation


In response to the election defeat, Labour looks set to scrap plans to introduce clean air zones around the country.

According to The Telegraph, an original policy document showed that Labour supported the use of clean air zones, but added that there could be impacts on small businesses.

It read: “Labour supports the principle of clean air zones and recognises the huge damage to human health caused by air pollution and the damage to our climate caused by carbon emissions from polluting vehicles.

“However, they must be phased in carefully, mindful of the impacts on small businesses and low-paid workers, and should be accompanied with a just transition plan to enable people to switch affordably to low-emission vehicles.”

However, it is now believed that the paragraphs have been removed from a policy handbook as a result of the by-election loss.

A number of cities around the country already have clean air zones which have been in operation since 2021.

Cities like Bath, Birmingham, Bristol and Newcastle have launched schemes that can see more polluting vehicles charged to drive in the city.

Some Scottish cities like Edinburgh and Glasgow are in the process of introducing Low Emission Zones, with some having already launched and some set to begin charging next year.

One city, Oxford, has gone one step forward with its Zero Emission Zone, where all non-electric cars are charged to drive inside the city centre.

A Labour source told The Telegraph: “Clean air zones are Conservative government policy. The Tories are the ones who have pushed councils to introduce them. Labour is not in favour of extra burdens on drivers during a Tory-made cost of living crisis.

“Labour’s priority is growing the economy to improve living standards and tackle the cost of living crisis, not pushing up costs for hard working families.

“We are committed to tackling air pollution and we will introduce a Clean Air Act, but we will always look at options for reducing air pollution which do not put the burden on hard working families.”


A Ulez sign

The ULEZ will expand again at the end of August


A clean air zone covering Greater Manchester is seemingly stuck in limbo after original plans were scrapped just months before enforcement was set to begin.

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