Hated Ulez-style traffic zones to be introduced across entire country - 'Criminalising driving!'

A London bus passes an information sign for the Ultra Low Emission Zone (Ulez) in London

A London bus passes an information sign for the Ultra Low Emission Zone (Ulez) in London

Jack Walters

By Jack Walters

Published: 17/07/2023

- 18:55

Carbon-cutting car restrictions could be introduced after a non-departmental public body ramped up pressure on a local council

Ulez-style traffic zones could be introduced across the country in a further blow to British motorists.

Natural England warned Epping Forest Council it would not be able to approve new housing developments unless green schemes or low-traffic neighbourhoods were implemented.

The policy could be enacted across England after the environment watchdog commissioned a review of “mitigation measures”.

Natural England was previously accused of blocking up to 145,000 homes but could go further with new properties in the vicinity of more than 330 designated areas across the country.

ULEZ protesters in Trafalgar SquareThe ULEZ scheme is set to be expanded in August.Reuters

Epping Forest District Council in Essex sparked outrage with local residents by drawing up plans to introduce its own “clean air zone” from 2025.

The plan would see cars and other vehicles face a fresh levy each time they enter the area.

The council said it had been “advised by Natural England, as the responsible statutory body”, that it would be unable to approve new developments unless it simultaneously introduced measures to control air pollution in the area.

A source told The Telegraph that Natural England “feels very much like they are trying to put a stop” to people driving in certain areas of the country.

A signpost for drivers warning them they are entering the ULEZ zone in LondonMore of the green ULEZ zone signs will start appearing across London Yui Mok

The broadsheet has also seen documents in which consultants commissioned by Natural England set out how they were looking at “mitigating emissions from traffic/vehicles associated with new development (residential/commercial)”.

As part of its own brief to the firm, Natural England said: “Soft measures can be proposed to address air quality impacts.”

It added: “Improvements to local public transport such as bus and train services, improvements to walking and cycling infrastructure, low traffic neighbourhoods, 15-minute neighbourhoods, provision of electric charging points and restriction of car parking in new developments and route management strategies for HGV’s etc.”

Speculation about more low-emission zones comes as Sadiq Khan controversially pushes ahead with Ulez across London.

London Mayor of London Sadiq Khan at the launch of the TfL consultation on the expansion of Ulez in 2022London Mayor Sadiq Khan is expected to seek a third term at City Hall in 2024PA

Transport Secretary Mark Harper has voiced concern about the policy and Conservative contenders for the next mayoral election have vowed to axe the tax.

A recent opinion poll commissioned by More in Common revealed Ulez continues to divide the country.

Thirty-one per cent of Britons supported Ulez schemes and 39 per cent were opposed.

However, 39 per cent of respondents from the capital supported the measure, with 35 per cent in opposition.

People take a walk in Epping Forest as the cold snap continues to grip much of the nation

People take a walk in Epping Forest as the cold snap continues to grip much of the nation


Tory voters were 25 per cent in favour but 55 per cent opposed.

Labour voters backed Ulez schemes by 40 per cent to 33 per cent, as did a plurality of Liberal Democrat and Green supporters.

A Natural England spokesman said: “Epping Forest is one of Britain‘s last remaining ancient forests with more veteran trees than almost anywhere else in Europe – it is legally protected which is why we provided advice to the local authority on how to mitigate the growing risk posed by air pollution.

“Ultimately it is for local planning authorities to decide how they deliver the places we aspire to live and whether they take into account our advice when granting planning permission.”

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