The ultra-low emission zone, or ULEZ, will operate within the London Congestion Charge zone – but run 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
It requires vehicles to meet defined emissions standards to travel for free; for cars, this means petrol cars must be compliant with Euro 4 exhaust emissions standards, which came into force on 1 January 2006.
It means petrol cars aged 14 years or younger will be able to drive within the ULEZ for free from 7 September 2020.
However, for diesel cars, the regulations are tougher: they stipulate cars must meet Euro 6 emissions standards, which only become mandatory for all new cars sold on 1 September 2015.
It means the youngest diesel cars able to travel for free will be aged five years or younger – it’s concerns over diesel tailpipe emissions, particularly levels of NOx, that have encouraged Transport for London to act.
For cars not meeting ULEZ standards, a £12.50 daily charge will be enforced.
Those living within the ULEZ will, however, have a three year ‘sunset period’: they won’t have to meet the new ULEZ standards until September 2023.
ULEZ: improving air quality
Michele Dix, managing director of planning at TfL, said: “London’s air quality has an impact on the health of every person living in this city which is why addressing emissions from road transport is such a priority.
“The ULEZ is a feasible and effective way to improve air quality not only in central London but it will also have a positive impact across the whole city too.
“We believe that giving owners of non-compliant vehicles more than five years to prepare means that they have fair warning to decide whether to change their vehicle to one that meets the emissions standards of the zone or pay a daily charge.”
Car industry trade body the SMMT supported the move. Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “The London ULEZ will play a key role in driving the market for ultra low emission vehicles in Europe’s leading mega city, and set a precedent not only in the UK but around the world.
“SMMT supports this vision and wants to see London meet its air quality and climate change targets, while driving innovation and supporting jobs.
“We are pleased to see the Mayor has recognised that the latest diesel technology has a place in an Ultra Low Emissions Zone. It is only by encouraging motorists to invest in the latest, lowest emission technology, regardless of vehicle or fuel type, that the Mayor’s vision be fully realised.”