December 05, 2021

London's Ultra Low Emission Zone just got bigger - is your area affected?

October 24, 2021

London's pollution charge zone for older vehicles has become 18 times larger, impacting tens of thousands of motorists.

The Ultra Low Emission Zone (Ulez) has expanded to cover all areas within the North and South Circular in an attempt to boost air quality.

Find out if your area - or somewhere you regularly drive - is affected on the map below:

Drivers who do not comply with minimum emissions standards will have to pay £12.50 daily to drive in the zone.

Those who do not comply face a penalty charge notice of £160, reduced to £80 if paid within a fortnight.

Whether a vehicle is liable for the charge depends on how much nitrogen dioxide (NO2) it emits. NO2 damages lungs and can exacerbate existing conditions such as asthma, and lung and heart disease.

Most diesel cars first registered after September 2015 and most petrol cars registered from 2005 onwards are exempt from the charge.

However, Transport for London said an estimated 130,000 vehicles within the new, larger zone are not compliant.

The charge applies all day, every day, except on Christmas Day.

The expanded zone is part of plans to make a greener London and fight climate change and air pollution.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who has adult-onset asthma, said 4,000 Londoners are dying prematurely each year due to toxic air, while children are growing up with stunted lungs.

Jemima Hartshorn, of air quality campaign group Mums for Lungs, said the expansion of the Ulez will mean "millions of people breathe cleaner air".

However, evidence suggests that many drivers are still unaware of the scheme.

A survey of 2,005 motorists - with at least 1,500 from London and 500 living within an hour of the capital - found only 43% are aware of the expansion.

More than one million letters have been sent to people who have driven within the new boundaries to alert them, while more than 600,000 leaflets have been delivered to residents in the new area.

Some small businesses in the capital have expressed concern about the impact of the charges.

Michael Lloyd, managing director of LTC Scaffolding, said his firm has invested £300,000 to upgrade some of its fleet to meet standards, but still expects to rack up around £2,500 a week in charges for its non-compliant vehicles.

"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".

Small businesses, charities, and Londoners who are disabled or on low incomes can apply to TfL for a £2,000 grant if they scrap a non-compliant car and purchase a cleaner vehicle.

Those scrapping a motorcycle or moped may be eligible for a £1,000 payment, but schemes for vans, minibuses, and lorries have been suspended due to "unprecedented demand and limited funds".

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The Ulez has operated since April 2019, but previously only covered the same area of central London as the congestion charge.

It has been successful at improving air quality, contributing to a 44% reduction in roadside nitrogen dioxide within its original boundaries.

It has also seen the number of vehicles meeting the tough emission standards rise from 39% in February 2017 to more than 80%.

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.

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