Truckers: Oxford zero-emissions zone is ‘absurd’

Oxford zero-emissions zone is absurd

The proposed Oxford zero-emissions zone (ZEZ) is being is described as “absurd” by Richard Burnett, Road Haulage Association (RHA) chief executive.

He said: “Imposing a scheme where even the cleanest, Euro VI trucks will be hit with charges is absurd.

“The councils have offered no evidence to show how these measures will improve air quality so we can only conclude this is all about showcasing their green credentials instead of making the tough choices to tackle emissions. 

“These are poorly conceived ideas which will leave Oxford’s communities footing the bill with price hikes in the high street if they go ahead.”

Another tax on business

Oxford zero-emissions zone is absurd

The zero-emission zone daily charge in the so-called ‘red zone’ is being described as just another tax on businesses, given that there are, at present. no zero-emission trucks on the market. 

At the moment, firms based within the zone could get exemptions from the charge. However, this is being branded as ‘discriminatory’ by the RHA. It says trucks delivering in the area will almost exclusively be based outside of the area.

The RHA plans to respond during the consultation periods expected over the coming months.

Zero-emission trucks: when are they coming?

Mercedes electric truck

At the moment, Mercedes-Benz and Tesla are working on electric-powered trucks. The E-Actros is still in the test phase, with the Mercedes trucks putting in miles with a selection of companies.

The Tesla Semi – not confirmed to be UK-bound – is still testing in America, and isn’t expected to be on the market for another two years.

Oxford to get UK’s first Zero Emission Zone THIS YEAR

Oxford zero emission zone 2020

Oxfordshire County Council and Oxford City Council have revealed plans to open the country’s first Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ) in the city. Petrol and diesel car drivers will be required to pay to enter the city centre in what’s known as the red zone.

The green zone, covering the wider city centre, and coming later, will work with a stricter version of the London’s ULEZ emission standards. While ULEZ-compliant vehicles go into the London zone for free, in Oxford they’ll pay a discounted rate. Only zero emission cars will travel in the green zone for free.

Red zone residents to get 90 percent discount until 2030Oxford zero emission zone 2020

The red zone will not be a 24-hour installation, rather it will be in effect from 7am until 7pm. Drivers of non-compliant cars will be liable for a £10 charge. It’s suggested that there will be discounts and a delayed roll-out for certain motorists, too. Blue Badge holders, for example, won’t pay in full until 2024. Businesses in the red zone will be exempt until 2024, and be eligible for a discount until 2030. Private residents living in the zone will get a 90 percent discount until December 2030.

Where is the red zone? You could likely walk it inside half an hour. It’s a small patch of roads between Gloucester Green, Westgate and the Sheldonian Theatre.

Oxford’s Zero Emission Zone – coming in 2020Shutterstock

If fully approved, the current suggestion is for the Oxford ZEZ to operational within a year. An informal consultation on the red zone will run until 31 January 2020.

Feedback is welcome on the level of the charges, the discounts, the operating hours and what the future should hold for the zones. Formal consultations begin in March, and a final decision is expected in the spring.

The green zone, covering the wider city centre, is proposed for 2021 and 2022. Further details on how the green zone will work are to be discussed later in the year.

Oxford zero emission zone 2020

“With our strengthened Zero Emission Zone and the introduction of hundreds of supporting charging points, our medieval city is leading the electric vehicle revolution,” said Councillor Tom Hayes, cabinet member for Zero Carbon Oxford, Oxford City Council.

“Our two councils have taken a fresh look at the big idea of charging commuters to drive polluting vehicles in and out of the city centre. And we’re listening to Oxford’s Citizens’ Assembly on Climate Change by speeding up our journey to a city-wide Zero Emission Zone.”

2021 London ULEZ expansion: motorists are already searching for compliant cars

London ULEZ expansion searches for compliant cars

The London ULEZ is due to expand in October 2021, from the conventional congestion charge area, all the way out to the North and South Circular roads.

Knowing the change is coming, many Londoners have already begun shopping for compliant cars, as searches for clean wheels surge.

According to Honcho, an automotive search marketing specialist, Google searches with the term ‘ULEZ’ have rocketed versus 12 months ago. The rise is a whopping 1,023 percent, from 5,310, to 60,110 searches.

Other popular search terms include ‘ULEZ car checker’ and ‘ULEZ exempt cars’.

London ULEZ expansion searches for compliant cars

Geographically, these terms are being searched most in Greater London, with car buyers in the area focusing on EVs and hybrids.

The second and third-placed areas where low emissions-related used car searches occur are Birmingham and Bristol.

The latter may have something to do with the recently-announced diesel ban in Bristol, which rules out all diesel cars between certain hours, no matter what their age. 

In terms of what cars buyers are looking for, the Nissan Leaf leads the way for EVs, in both new and used markets. For hybrids, perhaps unsurprisingly, the Toyota Prius was the most-searched for in both new and used markets.

The original ULEZ, which covers the London Congestion Charge zone, came into force on April 9 2019. For basic compliance, you need to have either a petrol car that’s Euro 4-compliant, or a diesel car that’s Euro-6 compliant.

The former is a vehicle aged from around 2005, the latter is around 2015.

London ULEZ expansion searches for compliant cars

“The expansion of the ULEZ is two years away but it is already focusing the attention of new and used car buyers living in the Greater London area who want to future proof their next purchase,” said Jack Minot from Honcho.

“Our research shows how 12 months ago Google searches using the term “ULEZ” barely registered but it is now a major consideration among prospective buyers.

“Dealers operating in and around the M25 need to factor in this growing trend by highlighting the ULEZ compliance of the new and used vehicles they are marketing online.”

Driving in London at Christmas: how to avoid charges

Christmas congestion charge

We are well into the festive period now, to the point that you’re not even allowed to complain about Christmas music.

For shopping, social occasions and more, many will be driving into London over Christmas. If that means you, here’s what you need to know about charges and when to pay them.

Congestion Charge at ChristmasChristmas congestion charge

Be selective about your visits to London and you won’t need to pay the Congestion Charge. For starters, you never need to pay between 6pm and 7am. Weekends are also free, as are Bank Holidays.

Two of those Bank Holidays are Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. The difference here is that these act as goal posts for a fallow period for the Congestion Charge. Driving into London from 6:01pm on Christmas Eve until 6:59am on January 2 is free of the charge.

It’s worth remembering that outside of this period, weekends fall on 21-22 December, and 4-5 January. So if you’re all tied up between Christmas and New Year, there’s still hope.

Congestion charge – what you’ll pay

If you need to pay, there are still ways you can save. Forward-planning can save you a couple of quid, useful for a winter-warming brew.

Signing up for Congestion Charge Auto Pay will mean you pay £10.50. If you pay in advance, or by midnight on the day of your visit, it’ll set you back £11.50. But if you wait until midnight the next day, the full £14 is payable. Motorbikes, mopeds and bicycles are exempt from the Congestion Charge.

Christmas congestion charge

Not paying the C-Charge when it is due will incur a fine of £160. If you pay within 14 days of the charge being issued, a 50 percent discount will be granted, for a fine of £80.

The ULEZ and Christmas

The Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) covers the same area as the Congestion Charge, until it expands in October 2021.

Unlike the C-Charge however, it doesn’t have off days. If your vehicle isn’t ULEZ exempt, you will need to pay, regardless of when you are in London.

Find out whether you’re liable to pay the ULEZ charge with our guide.

London low emission zone racks up 224,000 penalty charges

ULEZ penalty charges

Since coming into effect in April 2019, London’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) has seen more than 2.1 million drivers pay the daily charge.

However, around 224,000 entries into the zone have gone unpaid, incurring penalty charge notices.

A Freedom of Information request to Transport for London by uncovered the figures.

ULEZ penalty charges

A total of 223,952 penalties were sent out between May 11 and August 31. And nearly 32,000 drivers have received more than one fine for lack of ULEZ payment. One driver has racked up a scarcely believable 81 penalties, amounting to £13,000. 

Overall, TfL has made £10.6 million in fines, and £30.7 million in paid ULEZ charges. If that course is maintained, the ULEZ combined could earn TfL more than £120 million in its first year.

ULEZ penalty charges

The idea behind the ULEZ, apparently, is to incentivise the uptake of low- or zero-emission vehicles eligible for exemption. 

It already seems that drivers are taking measures to either avoid driving in the zone, or are swapping to eligible vehicles. May was the peak month in terms of people paying the charge, with 496,707 daily fees paid. By August, that was down to 347,340. Penalty Charge Notices peaked at 74,630 in June, dropping to 40,928 in August.

London ULEZ: the costs

ULEZ penalty charges

Entry into the ULEZ for a vehicle not eligible for free access is £12.50 per day (starting from midnight) for car, motorcycle and van drivers. If not paid, they face a £160 fine, which is reduced to £80 if paid within two weeks.

HGV and coach drivers face a higher charge of £100, and a fine of £1,000 if they don’t pay. That’s reduced to £500 if paid within 14 days.

London scrappage scheme extended to low-income motorists

London scrappage scheme

Low-income and disabled motorists can now take advantage of the London Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) scrappage scheme. They will be eligible for an allowance of £2,000 for a car or £1,000 for a motorbike.

The £23 million scheme was originally introduced alongside the ULEZ in April 2019. It was aimed at small businesses and charities, to get ahead of the ULEZ charge. The expansion of the scheme adds a further £25 million to this fund – and comes two years prior to the planned 2021 expansion of the ULEZ, which will stretch to the capital’s North and South Circular roads.

The scheme is, of course, limited to London: 32 boroughs of the capital as well as the City of London are included. Participants need to have owned their current car for 12 months or more. In addition, that period has to be from or before October 23 2019.

As announced yesterday, people who take London Mayor Sadiq Khan up on his expanded scrappage scheme could find their new eco-friendly car with a green number plate in the not-too-distant future. 

Londoners should ditch cars altogether, says Green Party

London scrappage scheme

While pleased with London’s continued encouragement of drivers into more environmentally friendly vehicles, the Green Party reckons more lateral thinking is needed. 

“Too many Londoners feel forced into car use and ownership,” said Green Party London Assembly member Caroline Russell.

“The Mayor must invest, throughout London, to make walking, cycling and public transport easy choices for everyone.”

Pollution charges boost London air quality by a third

London air quality up by a third

Central London’s air quality has improved by a third over the past two years. The findings come in the wake of the £10 Toxicity Charge, plus the £12.50 daily Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) charge that superseded it in April 2019. They have bolstered calls for other cities to take on clean air charging zones.

Nitrogen oxide, emitted primarily by diesel engines, is down significantly. Levels have dropped from 85 to 57 micrograms per cubic metre at the roadside in central London. However, carbon dioxide levels are only down around four percent.

London air quality up by a third

In September 2019 there were 13,500 fewer ‘polluting cars’ driven in central London compared with March. For reference, vehicles that incur a ULEZ charge include pre-Euro 6 (before 2015) diesels, and pre-Euro 4 (before 2005) petrol cars.

“The early evidence suggests the ULEZ is not only encouraging people to use cleaner private cars, but also to use more sustainable alternatives such as walking, cycling and public transport,” said Alex Williams, director of city planning at Transport for London.

There’s still a way to go

ULEZ pricing poorest off the road

Improving the air quality may be, but London’s NOx levels are still illegal. The current level is 17 micrograms above the legal limit of 40 micrograms per cubic metre.

Nonetheless, the reduction is considered proof of the clean air zone concept. “Critically, we know dirty air isn’t just a problem in London,” said Penny Woods, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation.

London air quality up by a third

“Most UK cities have illegal and unsafe levels of pollution, which seriously affects the health and quality of life of millions with a lung disease and puts children at risk of developing a lung condition.

“That’s why similar clean air zones must be urgently rolled out across the country to protect everyone’s lungs.

“[The ULEZ is] a fantastic example of the difference clean air zones, that charge the most-polluting vehicles, can make”.

One in four drivers FAIL to pay London ULEZ charge

ULEZ fines

London’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) came into effect in April of this year. Since then, around 130,000 drivers have been fined £80 for not paying the £12.50 daily charge.

The charge is payable only for vehicles that do not qualify for exemption. One in four drivers of non-compliant cars hasn’t been paying up.

In total, the ULEZ has earned Transport for London (TfL) £26 million in penalties so far. The minimum fine is £80, doubling to £160 if not paid within seven days.

ULEZ fines

As a result of the high volume of fines being administered, TfL and London mayor Sadiq Khan have faced criticism. Has enough been done to make drivers aware of the charge? Especially as the zone is due to expand from 25 October 2021, to be bordered by the North and South Circular roads.

“It is worrying there have been 130,000 fines in three months,” said Nicholas Lyes, head of roads policy at the RAC.”There is more that needs to be done by the mayor to raise awareness of what the ULEZ means to drivers and businesses before he expands the area it covers.”

ULEZ fines

Transport for London says its publicising of the ULEZ has been adequate. It began a campaign to spread awareness more than a year before the zone came into effect in April 2019.

“The Ultra Low Emission Zone has been introduced to significantly reduce pollution in the capital,” said Helen Chapman, director of licensing, regulation and charging at TFL.

“Transport for London has been running an extensive communications campaign since spring 2018 to make drivers aware of it.”

London ULEZ: The ultimate guide

ULEZ London

London’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) is now live. So when does it run? Will it expand? How much does it cost? Who is and what vehicles are exempt? How can I dodge it?

To answer all these questions and more, here’s our one-stop guide to London’s latest step towards cleaner urban air.

What is the ULEZ?

Like the Congestion Charge Zone (CCZ), the Ultra Low Emissions Zone covers an area of London that drivers to have to pay to travel within.

Entering the ULEZ costs £12.50 and, unlike the Congestion Charge (which costs £11.50), the fee applies no matter what time you travel: 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The ULEZ will expand in years to come, too.

London ULEZ – which vehicles are affected?

ULEZ London

Only petrol cars meeting Euro 4 emissions standard, and diesel cars meeting Euro 6 emissions standard, are exempt from paying the ULEZ charge of £12.50 per day (on top of the £11.50 London Congestion Charge – see below).

It also applies to vans, minibuses, coaches, lorries and other heavy vehicles. For motorbikes, it’s Euro 3 or above that is exempt, which will cause issues for many riders of older bikes.

Euro 4 became mandatory for all new cars in 2005. Euro 6 was introduced for all cars and light vans from September 2015 (January 2014 for larger vehicles). Euro 3 came into effect for bikes in 2007.

Quick guide: vehicles liable for ULEZ charges

  • Petrol cars and vans: pre-2006
  • Diesel cars and vans: pre-2015
  • Motorbikes: pre-2007

Some drivers can take comfort from the fact that many older petrol-powered cars will be exempt. Diesel, as ever these days, is having a tough time of it: much newer diesel cars are obliged to pay the ULEZ.

Is a ULEV (ultra-low emission vehicle) necessarily exempt?

Confusingly, an ultra-low emission vehicle is not necessarily exempt from the ultra-low emission zone. We can’t think of any vehicles that fall into the former category that aren’t exempt, but this is the case if we’re to believe a statement on Transport for London’s website.

‘A ULEV is defined as a vehicle that emits less than 75g of carbon dioxide (CO2) per kilometre travelled and is capable of at least 10 miles of zero-emission driving.

A ULEV vehicle is not the same thing as a vehicle that meets the requirements of the Mayor of London ultra low emission zone (ULEZ).

You can check whether your vehicle is compliant by entering your registration on the TfL website.

London ULEZ – where and when

Ultra Low Emissions Zone ULEZ London 2019

The ULEZ covers the same area as the current CCZ. It’s a relatively small patch in central London below Camden, cutting through Westminster, to the left of Tower Hamlets and above Southwark. It covers 8.1 square miles and makes up just 1.3 percent of Greater London.

However, the ULEZ will get bigger in October 2021, when the North and South Circular roads will serve as the new boundaries. While the Congestion Charge stops just before Camden, for example, the ULEZ post-October 2021 will cut off part-way into Barnet.

On the Transport for London (TfL) website, it also states that: “If you are driving any petrol or diesel vehicle within this enlarged area, you will need to meet new tighter emissions standards or pay a daily charge”.

How do I check if I need to pay the ULEZ charge?

We have a guide on how to check if you need to pay the ULEZ charge. You can also see below whether your area is affected.

You can check whether your area is affected by entering your postcode on the TfL website.

Those who live within the ULEZ catchment area, who are registered for the Congestion Charge discount, will not have to pay in full until the 24th of October 2021. This gives them the chance to get into an exempt vehicle.

However, they will have to continue to pay the T-Charge (toxicity charge) at a discounted 90 percent rate. 

Wait, what – Toxicitiy Charge? What’s that? Don’t worry, we have a guide to the London T-Charge too…

London ULEZ – how much is it?

The ULEZ charge is £12.50, payable by anyone in a vehicle that isn’t compliant, whatever time of day they enter. It’s £100 per day to enter for non-compliant vehicles over 3.5 tonnes.

A key point to note: the charge doesn’t buy you 24 hours in the ULEZ. The clock restarts at midnight, so if you drive into the zone at 11pm and leave at 3am the next day, you’ll be expected to pay £25 – or £200 if you’re in a non-compliant vehicle over 3.5 tonnes.

What’s more, if you’re in the area when the Congestion Charge is applicable, the ULEZ charge is paid IN ADDITION to the C-Charge. The ULEZ charge does, however, completely replace the current Emissions Surcharge (T-Charge).

As you’d expect, if the fee isn’t paid, a Penalty Charge Notice will be sent out to the registered keeper of the vehicle.

How can I avoid the London ULEZ?

Ultra Low Emissions Zone ULEZ London 2019

A new update to Waze will allow London residents using the app to enter whether their vehicle is exempt or not. If it isn’t, the app will automatically guide you around the ULEZ/C-charge zone so you don’t have to pay.

For now, so long as you don’t drive into the Congestion Zone area, you’ll avoid ULEZ. In subsequent years, it won’t be quite so straightforward to avoid it…

How to check if you need to pay the London ULEZ charge

The London ULEZ is coming

Britain’s first 24-hour ULEZ (Ultra Low Emission Zone) is now operating in central London on, and motorists are being urged to check to see if they need to pay it before driving into the capital. 

Most cars need to meet new, tighter exhaust emission standards or pay a daily charge to travel within the ULEZ. Usefully, Transport for London has created an online checker to see if you need to pay the London ULEZ.

Drivers who enter the ULEZ in vehicles that do not comply with the new emissions standards will be subject to a £12.50 fee – and that’s on top of the £11.50 Congestion Charge. This system replaces the current T-Charge scheme.

Unlike the Congestion Charge, the ULEZ is enforced 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is thought this fact alone may catch out some motorists. 

The ULEZ covers the same areas as the Congestion Charge, but in 2021 it will be expanded to the inner London area bounded by the North and South Circular roads.

Vehicles affected are those with pre-Euro 6 diesel and pre-Euro 4 petrol engines. Motorcycles built before 2007 will also have to pay the ULEZ charge.

The ULEZ will be 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.

Yes, the age difference is that stark: ULEZ is likely to hit diesel car owners harder than petrol car owners. 

If in doubt, you can also use a an online too from data firm HPI, which also includes a breakdown of the different Euro emissions standards.

‘Out of pocket’

London Congestion Charge

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.

“Our online check is completely free and allows motorists to check the emissions standard of their vehicle and potentially avoid a fine.”