The London Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) has been in operation 24 hours a day since early 2019.
Cars must meet stringent exhaust emissions standards in order to comply. Diesel cars as new as 2015 could be eligible for the daily charge. Helpfully, Transport for London (TfL) has created an online check tool to see if you need to pay the ULEZ.
There is also the issue of ULEZ expansion, which will see the zone move outward to the North and South Circular roads in October 2021. The regulations will then apply to many more people than those who live or in the established ‘Congestion Charge zone’.
Other cities are watching the performance of the ULEZ closely, and are looking to operate their own schemes.
ULEZ compliance: what you need to know
Drivers who enter the ULEZ in vehicles that do not comply with the emissions standards will be subject to a £12.50 fee – and that’s on top of the £15 daily Congestion Charge. This system replaced the earlier London T-charge scheme.
Unlike the Congestion Charge, the ULEZ is enforced 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – apart from on Christmas day.
Vehicles affected are those with pre-Euro 6 diesel and pre-Euro 4 petrol engines. Motorcycles built before 2007 also have to pay the ULEZ charge.
The ULEZ is enforced based on the declared emissions of the vehicle, but diesel cars that meet the standards are generally those registered after September 2015. Similarly, petrol cars registered after 2005 should meet the minimum requirements.
The ULEZ is thus likely to hit diesel car owners hardest.
‘Out of pocket’
If in doubt, you can also use an online tool from data firm HPI, which includes a breakdown of the different Euro emissions standards.
Fernando Garcia, consumer director at HPI, said: “Research has already shown that over a third of motorists had not heard of the Euro Emission Standard classification system, while two-thirds of those who had were unsure what category their vehicle fitted in.
“The changes around vehicle emissions could give motorists a real headache and leave them out of pocket.”