City Hall and Transport for London are being urged to boost pre-launch publicity for the Ultra-Low Emission Zone after a survey suggested a “significant number” of small businesses are aware of the incoming scheme.
The zone, which will see owners of polluting vehicles entering central London pay a daily fee, was first developed by former mayor Boris Johnson and was originally due to launch in September 2020.
Current mayor, Sadiq Khan, who has made cleaning up the capital’s poor quality air a priority for his administration has brought forward the start date to next April.
Commissioned by the Federation of Small Businesses, the survey found that nearly a third (31%) of respondents were unaware of the April start date and that many more (43%) are concerned about the impact of the scheme on their profits.
In addition, a quarter say they plan to cease serving customers in London as a result of the ULEZ, a change the FSB warns “has negative implications for the supply, servicing and maintenance of London in the short to medium term, at a time of economic uncertainty due to Brexit and international trade challenges.”
The organisation is calling on the Mayor and TfL to give a six month grace period to drivers that enter the zone in a vehicle that does not meet the emissions standard, allowing them time to change vehicles or receive backdated charges.
It’s also calling for TfL to “significantly increase” publicity about the scheme in the final six months before it goes live.
Sue Terpilowski OBE, London Policy Chair, FSB said: “FSB has long argued that tackling air quality is a critical issue for London. We support the drive of the Mayor of London to lead from the front on this issue.
“However, it must be remembered that the cost of doing business in the capital is forcing many small businesses to re-evaluate their business activity.
“A poorly implemented ULEZ will make small businesses think even harder about making critical business decisions, from investing in new/used vehicles that businesses rely on – to outsourcing London work to sub-contractors with compliant vehicles.
“Now is the time for the Mayor and TfL to show how business friendly they are.”