Leonardo DiCaprio backs London mayor Sadiq Khan’s decision to expand the Ulez

Man in the mask: Leonardo DiCaprio at COP26 in Glasgow  (PA)
Man in the mask: Leonardo DiCaprio at COP26 in Glasgow (PA)

Sadiq Khan’s decision to expand the ultra-low emission zone across Greater London has unexpectedly received support – from Hollywood legend Leonardo DiCaprio.

The Oscar-winning actor described the mayor’s go-ahead for the Ulez expansion – effectively taking it up to the M25 motorway on August 29 next year – as “the kind of large-scale decisive action” needed to tackle climate change.

In a Facebook post he shared with his 19m followers, DiCaprio wrote: “London mayor Sadiq Khan’s decision to expand his flagship air quality policy, the ultra-low emission zone (Ulez), will mean five million more people breathing cleaner air and will help to build a better, greener, fairer London for everyone.

“This is the kind of large-scale, decisive action we need to halve emissions this decade, coupled with the implementation of nature-based solutions.

“The expansion of the Ulez will reduce the number of Londoners living in areas exceeding interim World Health Organisation (WHO) targets for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) by 13 per cent – including children at 145 schools.”

Leonardo DiCaprio’s Facebook post praising the Ulez expansion (Facebook)
Leonardo DiCaprio’s Facebook post praising the Ulez expansion (Facebook)

But Nick Rogers, GLA Conservatives transport spokesperson, said: "A millionaire in California who regularly travels by private jet might not understand the devastating cost of living impact Sadiq Khan’s Ulez expansion will have on people. But Londoners do, which is why an overwhelming majority voted against it in the consultation and the latest YouGov polling.

"Given the overwhelming reaction from Londoners against this decision, 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 U-turn."

DiCaprio, whose films include Titanic, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood and The Revenant, for which he won an Academy Award, had received almost 800 likes for the post by 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 congratulations to Mr Khan on the launch of the Ulez in central London. At the time, DiCaprio said: “Clean air is a human right.”

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The expansion of the Ulez from the North and South Circular roads to the Greater London boundary is expected to generate £200m in the first 12 months for Transport for London, TfL finance chiefs have told the Standard.

However this is expected to fall sharply in the following years as drivers switch vehicles to avoid the £12.50 levy.

About 15 per cent of vehicles registered in outer London - about 200,000 vehicles - are currently thought to be liable for the 24/7 charge.

TfL published its draft business plan on Thursday, setting out its expected income and expenditure over the next three years.

Mr Khan’s decision to expand the Ulez for a 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-motoring groups outside London and said the measures were needed to improve air quality in the suburbs.

Drivers whose vehicles do not comply with the exhaust emission rules will have to pay a £12.50-a-day levy.