Support for ULEZ Has Grown Since September, Aiding Khan’s Chances of Victory

April 30, 2024
R&WS Research Team
Cities & Urban Life | London | London Mayoral Election 2024 | Sadiq Khan | Transport

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In September last year, shortly after London’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) was expanded to include all the boroughs of Outer London, we at Redfield & Wilton Strategies found that while more Londoners still supported than opposed the existence of the ULEZ, support had dropped appreciably in the previous months, with a corresponding rise in opposition. Perceptions of the ULEZ’s effectiveness and purpose had also worsened.

At the time, Londoners were still getting used to the expansion of the zone, with opposition widespread among Conservative politicians and media. The Conservatives hoped that opposition to the expansion of ULEZ might help power Susan Hall to an upset victory in the London Mayoral Election on 2 May this year, just as it had helped Steve Tuckwell to a narrow by-election victory in Uxbridge & South Ruislip off the back of voters’ opposition to the policy.

Indeed, our first London Mayoral Voting Intention poll after the ULEZ expansion went into effect showed Hall had narrowed Sadiq Khan’s margin in London to just 1%.

But now, with the Mayoral Election just days away, Hall trails Khan by 13%, as opposition to ULEZ has failed to become the anti-Khan rallying issue Conservatives hoped it would be. 

Indeed, our latest poll, conducted between April 6 and 8 in partnership with OnLondon, shows support for ULEZ has actually grown since September.

Altogether, 50% of Londoners now say they support the existence of the ULEZ in London, against 31% who oppose it, for a net level of support of +19%. Support is up six points since September, while opposition has fallen two points in the same period of time. Net support for the existence of the ULEZ has therefore risen 8 points.

However, support for the scheme remains lower than it was last June (before the ULEZ expansion was implemented), at which time 58% of voters supported the scheme against only 24% who opposed it.

That said, net support for the expansion of the ULEZ into Outer London has risen only slightly since September.

41% (+2) of Londoners now say they support the expansion of the ULEZ to outer London, while 35% (-3) are opposed to the expansion. Net support for the expansion (now +6%) has thus risen five points from September.

In Outer London, where the expansion has taken place, 41% (-4) now oppose and 37% (+5) support the expansion. Net opposition to the ULEZ expansion in Outer London has thus fallen from -13% then to -4% since last September.

Since the ULEZ was expanded in London last August, a plurality of 36% of Londoners say their opinion of that expansion has not changed either way. 31% say they have become more opposed to the expansion of ULEZ since last August, whereas 28% have become more supportive

An equal number of 34% of those who live in Inner London say they have either become more supportive or that their opinion has not changed either way since the expansion came into effect.

By contrast, a narrow plurality of 37% of those living in Outer London say their opinion has not changed either way, against 36% who say they have become more opposed to the expansion of London’s ULEZ since it came into effect last August.

Perceptions in London of the effectiveness of Ultra-Low Emissions Zone and its actual motive have improved slightly for the better in the past seven months.

Last September, only 42% said the introduction of ULEZ had reduced the level of air pollution and increased air quality in the capital, while a plurality (45%) thought the introduction of ULEZ has made no difference to air pollution or air quality in the city.

Now, 43% of Londoners say the introduction of ULEZ has reduced the level of air pollution and increased air quality in the city, against 41% who think it has made no difference.

Similarly, the percentage of Londoners who believe the primary purpose of the Ultra-Low Emissions Zone is to reduce air pollution is up from 44% in September to 48% now. By contrast, the percentage of those who believe the main purpose of the scheme is to raise tax revenue has fallen by five points, from 39% in September to 34% now.

In addition, there has been a marked shift since last September in Londoner’s understanding of which Mayor was responsible for first introducing ULEZ to the city.

In September, a plurality of 38% thought (correctly) that Boris Johnson was the Mayor of London who first introduced the ULEZ to London, against only 28% who thought it was Sadiq Khan.

Now, after a relentless campaign by the Conservatives to tie the incumbent Mayor to the scheme and its recent expansion, 40% of Londoners now wrongly believe it was Sadiq Khan who first introduced the ULEZ to London, against only 26% who think it was the Mayor who actually introduced it, Boris Johnson.

With the Mayoral Election days away, a small plurality (27%) of Londoners now say they would be most likely to vote for the candidate who would keep ULEZ at its new expanded boundaries. That figure is unchanged from last September.

24% would be most likely to support a candidate who would return ULEZ to its previous boundaries in Inner London, while 21% would be most likely to vote for a candidate who would abolish the ULEZ altogether, tentatively suggesting a plurality anti-ULEZ vote.

But regardless of which ULEZ position they would be most likely to vote for, only a small number of London voters appear set to have their votes determined by this issue in the Mayoral Election.

As our polling has made clear, Londoners are more concerned about other issues affecting their city, with ‘transport/car policies’ ranking only ninth in order of importance when Londoners are asked which issue would determine their vote at the election

In short, the backlash against the expansion of the ULEZ scheme which Conservatives hoped might power them to victory in the Mayoral Election has failed to materialise. Instead, the issue has faded from public consciousness, and support for both the scheme and its expansion has slightly risen since last September.

To find out more information about this research contact our research team. Redfield & Wilton Strategies is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Follow us on Twitter

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