Sadiq Khan’s decision to extend the Ultra Low Emissions Zone in Greater London has received unexpected backing from Hollywood legend Leonardo DiCaprio.
The Oscar-winning actor described the mayor’s green light for the Ulez expansion – bringing it to the M25 motorway on August 29 next year – as “the kind of large-scale decisive action necessary to combat climate change.
In a Facebook post he shared with his 19 million followers, DiCaprio wrote: “London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s decision to extend his flagship air quality policy, the area to very low emissions (Ulez), will mean that five million more people will breathe cleaner air and help build a better, greener and fairer London for all.
“This is the kind of decisive large-scale action we need to halve emissions this decade, coupled with the implementation of nature-based solutions.
“The Ulez expansion will reduce the number of Londoners living in areas exceeding the World Health Organization (WHO) interim targets for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) by 13%, including children of 145 schools.”
But Nick Rogers, transport spokesman for the GLA Conservatives, said: ‘A millionaire in California who regularly travels by private jet might not understand the devastating impact on the cost of living that the Ulez expansion will of Sadiq Khan will have on people.But Londoners are doing it, which is why an overwhelming majority voted against in the consultation and the latest YouGov poll.
“Given the overwhelming backlash from Londoners against this move, it is clear that Sadiq Khan’s Ulez plans have hit an iceberg and not even Leonardo DiCaprio can save him. The Mayor must listen to Londoners and turn back.”
DiCaprio, whose films include Titanic, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood and The Revenant, for which he won an Academy Award, had received nearly 800 likes for the post Thursday morning.
He met Mr Khan last year at the COP26 summit in Glasgow and has previously used social media to support the mayor’s initiatives.
In 2019 he tweeted his congratulations to Mr Khan on the launch of the Ulez in central London. At the time, DiCaprio said, “Clean air is a human right.”
The Ulez’s expansion of the North and South Circular routes to the Greater London border is expected to generate £200m in the first 12 months for Transport for London, TfL’s finance chiefs have told Standard.
However, this is expected to drop sharply in subsequent years as drivers switch vehicles to avoid the £12.50 charge.
Around 15% of registered vehicles in the London outskirts – around 200,000 vehicles – would currently be liable for the 24/7 charge.
TfL released its draft business plan on Thursday, setting out its expected revenue and expenditure over the next three years.
Mr Khan’s decision to extend the Ulez for the second time came despite a majority of respondents to a TfL consultation saying they opposed the plans.
Mr Khan said the consultation had been ‘hijacked’ by pro-car groups outside London and said the measures were needed to improve air quality in the suburbs.
Drivers whose vehicles do not comply with exhaust emission rules will have to pay a charge of £12.50 per day.