London’s new ultra-low emission zone comes into force
London‘s pollution charge zone for older vehicles has been significantly expanded, affecting tens of thousands of motorists from today.
Drivers of vehicles which do not comply with minimum emissions standards are being charged £12.50 to drive in the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), which is now 18 times larger.
The ULEZ has operated since April 2019, but previously only covered the same area of central London as the Congestion Charge.
It now includes all areas within the North and South Circular roads in an attempt to boost air quality.
The Ultra Low Emission Zone in London is now 18 times larger as the expansion comes into force today meaning any drivers whose cars do not meet standards will face a £12.50 charge
The zone now encompasses areas within the north and south circular roads and has been expanded in a bid to tackle air pollution and reduce NO2 levels which can be harmful to lungs
London Mayor Sadiq Khan (pictured) resisted calls to delay the expansion because of Covid-19
It comes after London mayor Sadiq Khan faced pressure to postpone the expansion as businesses who are still dealing with fallout from the pandemic say they cannot afford the increased cost.
Mr Khan had previously insisted it was a ‘matter of life and death’ as he resisted pleas to delay the change.
How much will the Ulez scheme cost me?
Many more motorists will be liable for a daily charge after London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone was expanded. Here are 12 key questions about the scheme:
– What is the Ultra Low Emission Zone (Ulez)? It is an area in London where drivers of older, more polluting vehicles are charged a daily fee.
– What has changed? It previously only covered parts of central London, but on Monday it became 18 times larger.
– What are the new boundaries? The Ulez has been extended to include all areas within the North and South Circular roads.
– Who has done this and why? The change has been implemented by London mayor Sadiq Khan in an attempt to improve air quality in the capital.
– What is the charge for non-compliant vehicles? The daily fee is £12.50 for cars, motorcycles and vans up to 3.5 tonnes. Heavier vehicles, including lorries, buses and coaches, are charged £100.
– When do charges apply? All day, every day of the year except on Christmas Day.
– How quickly do I have to pay? You have until midnight on the third day after the journey.
– How do I do it? You can pay online through TfL’s website, using the Pay to Drive in London app, or by phone. Drivers also have the option of setting up automatic billing so they are charged monthly.
– What happens if I do not pay? You could be handed a Penalty Charge Notice for £160, reduced to £80 if paid within a fortnight.
– What vehicles are affected? It depends how much nitrogen dioxide it emits, which is generally linked to its age. For diesel cars, most of those that meet the minimum standard were first registered after September 2015. Compliant petrol cars are typically those registered after 2005.
-Where does the money go? TfL says the cash it receives from the Ulez is reinvested into improving London’s transport network and to improve air quality. It insists ‘we don’t make a profit’ from the scheme.
The extra cost of making their vehicles compliant or being forced to pay the charge has caused concern among businesses.
Michael Lloyd, managing director of LTC Scaffolding, said his firm has invested £300,000 to upgrade some of its fleet to meet ULEZ standards, but still expects to rack up around £2,500 a week in charges for its non-compliant vehicles.
He said that ‘most small businesses’ cannot afford that expense.
The ULEZ expansion is ‘a good idea’ but it should have been postponed for at least six months,’ according to Mr Lloyd.
‘The only thing is the timing,’ he said. ‘Businesses are on their knees because of the pandemic, and this is just another kick in the teeth.’
The Federation of Small Businesses called for a one-month ‘period of grace’ with enforcement delayed to give firms ‘time to adjust’.
Pollution charges also operating in Birmingham and Bath, and are proposed for cities across England and Scotland including Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester, Newcastle and Portsmouth.