- What is happening to the Ulez zone?
- Do I have to pay the charge?
- Will there be support or exemptions?
The Ultra Low Emmission Zone (Ulez) in London is set to be massively expanded.
The zone, operated by Transport for London, aims to clean up London’s air by discouraging use of high-polluting vehicles. Anyone driving a motor vehicle in the Ulez that doesn’t meet its emissions standards and isn’t exempt must pay a charge.
The scheme was introduced in 2019, with the aim of cutting pollution in central London by 15 per cent. It operates 24 hours a day, midnight to midnight, every day of the year, except Christmas Day.
Here’s everythig you need to know.
What is happening to the Ulez zone?
Currently the Ulez covers all areas within the North and South Circular Roads. Neither the North (A406) or South Circular (A205) are themselves included in the zone.
However, it is going to be expanded enormously. From 29 August 2023 it will include everywhere within the Greater London Authority boundary, and some areas beyond. You can see details and an interactive map here.
People with non-compliant cars who live in the Ulez are not exempt from daily charges.
“The Ulez so far has been transformational, reducing harmful pollution levels by almost a half in central London,” said London Mayor Sadiq Khan.
The area is being extended (Photo: TfL)
“But there is still far too much toxic air pollution permanently damaging the health of young Londoners and leading to thousands of early deaths every year, with the greatest number of deaths in the outer London boroughs.”
A public consultation found that 80 per cent of people living in the newly affected areas oppose the change.
Mr Khan’s opponents have criticised the decision at a time when many are struggling with the cost of living crisis, but the Mayor said “public health” has to be the most important factor.
Nick Rogers, transport spokesman for London Conservatives, said: “Now is not the time to hammer Londoners with a £12.50 daily cost-of-living charge. Residents have made their views very clear to the mayor: they do not want the Ulez expansion. The mayor must listen to them, scrap these plans and use the £250m saved on real measures that tackle air pollution.”
Brian Gregory, policy director at the Alliance of British Drivers, said the Mayor’s “whole basis for extending the Ulez zone on the basis of public health doesn’t stand up to scientific scrutiny. TfL has an enormous hole in its budget and Mayor Khan is looking to fill that hole by any means that he can.”
Do I have to pay the charge?
You can use TfL’s number-plate checker to see if you have to pay the charge for your vehicle.
The Ulez daily charge is:
- £12.50 for most vehicle types, including cars, motorcycles and vans (up to and including 3.5 tonnes);
- £100 for heavier vehicles, including lorries (over 3.5 tonnes) and buses/coaches (over 5 tonnes).
This daily charge is in addition to the congestion charge if you drive in central London as well.
If vehicles meet certain emissions standards they are exempt from the fee. For petrol vehicles that is “Euro 4” and for diesel it is “Euro 6”.
Ulez is enforced based on the declared emissions of the vehicle rather than the age. However:
- Petrol cars that meet the Ulez standards are generally those first registered with the DVLA after 2005, although cars that meet the standards have been available since 2001′
- Diesel cars that meet the standards are generally those first registered with the DVLA after September 2015.
TfL says: “We prefer that you use a vehicle that meets the emissions standards rather than pay a daily charge.”
If you do not pay by midnight the day following your journey, you can be charged up to £180.
Will there be support or exemptions?
Some schemes will be available.
TfL writes: “From 30 January 2023, Londoners receiving certain disability and means-tested benefits can apply to our car and motorcycle scrappage scheme and receive a grant payment, or a grant payment plus one or two Annual Bus & Tram passes. A separate van and minibus scrappage scheme will also be available for sole traders, micro-businesses (10 or fewer employees) and charities.
“There will also be Ulez support offers for successful scrappage scheme applicants as well as offers for all Londoners to take advantage of, whether eligible for a grant or not.”
If their car does not meet emmission standards, Blue Badge holders need to pay the charge unless it is registered with the DVLA as having a “disabled” or “disabled passenger vehicle” tax class.
Keepers of vehicles registered in these tax classes benefit from a grace period where they are exempt from paying the Ulez charge until 24 October 2027.
London-licensed taxis are exempt, unless they have an older, more polluting taxi that is subject to a 12-year age limit, with newer, cleaner taxis extended to 15 years.
Keyword: Ulez expansion map: How to check if your car is Ulez compliant and where the new zone will cover in London