The ULEZ zone has expanded — what now?

While the majority of cars on the road currently meet ULEZ standards, some drivers will need to be aware of possible fees attached to their commute.

ulez sign

London’s air quality has been degrading in recent years due to increased traffic and congestion on our roads. There’s broad scientific agreement that this reduction in air quality increases the risk of long-term illnesses. Whilst newer vehicles pollute less, it comes as no surprise to anyone that some are unwilling to trade in their old cars, or simply can’t afford a newer model. 

In an effort to improve the air quality around London and the home counties, the office of Mayor Sadiq Khan and Transport for London will be expanding the ULEZ coverage area at the end of the month, meaning cars that pollute more will need to pay £12.50 a day in order to drive in the zone. And while only around 10% of cars will have to pay the charge which now covers the expanded areas up to Knockholt, Brentford and Barking — pictured below — the changes are being met with mixed reactions from local drivers. In order to help, there are educational and financial resources available to Londoners to better adapt to the new road regulations.

If you’re unsure if these changes will affect you directly, you can check if a specific postcode falls within the zone to plan accordingly.

The thought process behind ULEZ is simple: if you make it more expensive to drive higher-polluting cars, people will be encouraged, or even better off, trading in their old cars under a scrappage scheme to avoid paying the charge. 

There has been much ado in the press about the ULEZ zone, however, TfL figures show most cars already meet the ULEZ standards. They say only 200,000 out of the 2.3 million vehicles are non-compliant. To put that into context, that’s 1/10 cars and 2/10 vans. 

The official standards are below: 

  • Euro 3 for motorcycles, mopeds, motorised tricycles and quadricycles (L category)
  • Euro 4 (NOx) for petrol cars, vans, minibuses and other specialist vehicles
  • Euro 6 (NOx and PM) for diesel cars, vans and minibuses and other specialist vehicles
  • Lorries, vans and specialist heavy vehicles (all over 3.5 tonnes Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) and buses, minibuses and coaches (all over 5 tonnes GVW) do not need to pay the ULEZ charge. They will need to pay the LEZ charge if they do not meet the LEZ emissions standard.

Most petrol cars are ULEZ compliant if they were first registered with the DVLA after 2005, although cars that meet the standards have been available since 2001. Diesel cars first registered with the DVLA after September 2015 generally meet the ULEZ standards too. If you’re unsure if your vehicle meets the ULEZ standards or not you can check your vehicle compliance

If your car is non-compliant, don’t panic. You can consider the scrappage scheme which is available to small businesses, sole traders and individuals and low income families. There are also a number of offers open to all Londoners to help them find sustainable alternative forms of travel.

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