All you need to know about London’s new Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ)

There have been growing concerns on the quality of air in the UK, particularly London, as it contributes to poor health as well. As a result of these concerns the Ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) was introduced. This new concept basically serves as an area from which all vehicles must comply with the stringent emissions requirement or face a daily charge to travel.

This concept (ULEZ) is a measure put out by the mayor of London to tackle London’s poor air pollution, as it’s a major issue the Capital is currently dealing with. Some of these issues include the fact that there are about 400 schools situated in areas exceeding the legal air quality levels, and in some extreme cases there have been Londoners that have died as a result of being exposed to air pollution. This concept has therefore purposefully been implemented to protect children from, breathing illnesses, heart diseases, and lung damage.

How much will it cost?

This is a very critical question to most people, hence below is a breakdown of the charges that apply;

  • For vehicles under 3.5 tonnes such as cars, motorcycles and vans, daily charges will be £24 (£11.50 congestion charge and a £12.50 ULEZ fee)
  • Vehicles over 3.5 tonnes such as lorries, and also buses or coaches over 5 tonnes will incur a charge of £100.
  • In regards to drivers who drive smaller vehicles, failure to pay will incur a penalty of £160, however this can be reduced by half if its paid before 14 working days. The same discounts apply to drivers of coaches, buses and lorries; however, they face fines of up to £1000.

Now, you are probably thinking, this sounds like a lot of money being taken from the public, however the revenue raised will be used by Transport for London (TFL) to help reduce pollution and most importantly lead to a less toxic city and a greener transport fleet.

Will my vehicle be affected?

First and foremost, with the aim of improving air quality, cars in the European union are categorised into Euro mission standards. Below is therefore a breakdown of vehicles that will be affected;

  • Motor bikes that are not up to the standards of Euro 3, this also applies to all new cars registered from January 1st
  • Petrol cars and Vans that do not meet the standards of Euro 4, this also applies to all new cars registered from January 1st
  • Vans and Diesel cars that are not up to the standards of Euro 6 (this is an estimated equivalent for cars not being more than 6 years old in 2021)

Are there any exemptions from the Ultra emission zone?

The good news is, the Ultra Emission Zone does not have an effect on all types of vehicles or drivers, some of these exemptions include disabled and blue badge holders. Black cab drivers have also been exempted; however, this news have not been received well by the general public as they are major contributors to air pollution. On the other hand, police cars, ambulances and fire engines have not been exempted, resulting into millions in expenditure by the Capital’s emergency services as they had to replace all their older vehicles.

There has also been some form of flexibility ensured by the government, as residents living within the congestion zone, are able to register for a 100% ULEZ discount which runs until December 2021. This in simpler terms implies they have until December 2021 to acquire a vehicle that meets the required standard of ULEZ.

Will there be a scrappage scheme for Older Vehicles?

Plans have been announced by London’s Mayor for a car scrappage scheme, and the main purpose of it, is to encourage people to switch to environmentally friendly cars.

How will cars be caught in the zone?

In terms of the number of cameras that will be on operation, Transport for London have made no confirmation. However, it seems like there is going to be a significant investment implemented into the process of catching offenders as the expanded ULEZ is set to be 18 times bigger than the congestion charge zone.

How will one know they have entered the ULEZ?

Number plates will be read by cameras to check if the meet the required standards by ULEZ, hence there won’t be a disruption of barriers and toll booths.

What effect will Brexit have on this?

The aim of car manufacturers is to still produce vehicles to the same standards and classifications hence Brexit in the short to medium term will not have an impact.

Will there be a reduction in London’s Traffic?

There has been a prediction of a 5% reduction in the overall car traffic in central London according to Transport for London once ULEZ is up and running smoothly.

In addition, since the introduction of the congestion zone 15 years ago, there has been 30% fewer private vehicles entering London, and the hope of these new measures (ULEZ) is to further reduce traffic according to the Mayor.

Challenges Organisations face

The introduction of Ultra Low Emission Zones in London, although has had a smooth start, has not been received with open arms across the entire city. According to new research from the Europcar Mobility Group UK, one in four businesses that use vans have left it late to prepare themselves for ULEZ London. Furthermore 1 in 10 (12%) businesses say they are still unsure of the exact requirement of the ULEZ

Will it be a success?

The Introduction of London’s Ultra Low Emission Zones (ULEZ) has not necessary been well received as stated earlier, however the percentage of people and businesses that have complied and are willing to comply far out weighs the few that don’t. In addition, looking at the success the introduction of the congestion zone 15 years ago has had, proves that London’s ULEZ has a very great chance of success.


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