Mother of girl who died of air pollution welcomes Ulez expansion - but has cost concerns

Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah died from dangerous levels of air pollution in 2013 (PA Media)
Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah died from dangerous levels of air pollution in 2013 (PA Media)

The mother of a nine-year-old girl who died from exposure to London’s traffic has welcomed the ultra-low emission zone’s (Ulez) expansion but has concerns about the impact on poorer people.

Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah died in 2013 after an asthma attack, and in a landmark coroner’s case was the first person to have air pollution listed as a cause of death at an inquest in the UK.

Her mother Rosamund has campaigned for cleaner air in UK cities since Ella’s death and is a strong supporter of the Ulez expansion, saying Tuesday was “a good day for everyone” but said “individual things need to be looked at”.

She said it will be “really harsh” on some people, saying it is “not right” that late-shift care workers on lower wages may have to pay Ulez twice.

People who drive in the zone in a vehicle that does not meet minimum emissions standards are now required to pay a £12.50 daily fee or risk a £180 fine, reduced to £90 if paid within 14 days.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan with Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah (PA Wire)
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan with Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debrah (PA Wire)

Asked about concerns over costs, Ms Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, from Lewisham, said: “I’m not in charge of the scheme but every scheme you bring in, there are teething problems and also I’d like to think all blue badge holders now can access the scrappage scheme. Again, if they don’t, they need to contact the mayor’s office.

“No matter what scheme you bring in, there will always be people adversely affected, we need to limit it as much as possible.

“But can I thank people in outer London, I found out yesterday from November 2022, 702,000 of them have compliant cars, that is amazing, so it shows you people genuinely are behind it.

“Unfortunately, it does cost to clean up the air and this isn’t a party political thing, we need the Government to contribute because the more money there is in the scrappage scheme, you can bring more people in.

“Of course I’m concerned because we don’t want the poorest to be impacted, but to speak to those people who are incredibly poor, who don’t even own a car, who are on the main roads waiting for buses, I hope in time, they will have cleaner air as well because they don’t even own a car and yet they are adversely impacted.”

London mayor Sadiq Khan’s controversial Ulez expansion launched on Tuesday bringing five million more Londoners into the clean air zone — as a fresh war of words erupted between campaigners and critics of the scheme.

Mr Khan has faced strong opposition to the scheme, but a £160 million scheme run by Transport for London enables residents, small businesses, sole traders and charities scrapping non-compliant cars to claim grants.

The Labour Mayor and environmental advocates hailed what is set to be the “biggest, strongest ultra-low emission zone” of its type in the world.

But opponents argued it will put a further financial burden on the poorest during a cost-of-living crisis as drivers with older vehicles in outer boroughs now face a £12.50 daily charge.