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London ULEZ: What is the Ultra Low Emission Zone and how does it affect you?

(Pocket-lint) – London introduced a charge for high-emissions vehicles entering a particular zone in the city back in 2019, but the area covered will increase later this year. 

As with other cities both large and small, London is struggling with air pollution and – like other cities, too – it has decided the only way is to deter high-polluting vehicles by charging them a daily fee to enter a set area.  

What are the boundaries for the ULEZ?

The ULEZ, or Ultra Low Emission Zone, originally came into effect on 8 April 2019 covering the same area as the London Congestion Charge.

So that’s from Marble Arch in the West across to Liverpool Street and Tower Bridge in the East and from Euston/King’s Cross in the North down to Elephant and Castle in the South.

TFL

The ULEZ will then expand to all inner London boroughs on 25 October 2021. That will essentially cover everywhere inside the North and South Circular roads – although the North and South circular roads themselves won’t be charged.

For larger vehicles, the situation has already changed – a London-wide Low Emission Zone (LEZ) started a year earlier, on 26 October 2020. 

You can look up to see if a particular postcode is within the zone on the TfL website. If you’re planning a route on Waze, it’ll alert you if you’re passing through the zone.

Future electric cars: Upcoming battery-powered cars that will be on the roads within the next 5 years

TFL

When does ULEZ operate and how much does it cost?

The ULEZ charge operates 24 hours a day but goes from midnight to midnight – so if you drive in at 11pm and drive out at 1am you’ll need to pay two daily charges.

It costs £12.50 for most vehicle types, including cars, motorcycles and vans (up to and including 3.5 tonnes). The charge is steep, but if you drive an affected lorry over 3.5 tonnes or buses over 5 tonnes you’ll need to pay £100!

If you don’t pay the charge, the penalty is £160 – or £80 if you pay within two weeks. That’s if you’re a car – the lorry charge for non-payment is £1,000 reduced to £500 if you pay within two weeks. It’s fair to suggest that some people have been badly caught out.

What vehicles are affected?

Vehicles are judged to be liable for the charge if they don’t meet particular Euro emissions standards – according to the Mayor of London’s figures, 60 percent of vehicles are already compliant. You can find out if your vehicle is affected on the Transport for London (TfL) Vehicle checker.

For petrol cars and vans, they’ll need to conform to Euro 4 and for diesel cars and vans it’s Euro 6. While the age is somewhat irrelevant, petrol cars made before 2005 will almost certainly be affected. But the rules come down heavy on diesel vehicles – Euro 6 came into force in 2015, so anything before that will be liable to be charged. For vans, the dates are roughly a year later.

For lorries, buses and other large vehicles, the Euro VI regulations need to be met so that’s basically anything pre-2014 that will be charged.

Motorcycles and mopeds need to meet the Euro 3 standards, so that’s anything registered before 2007.

Is ULEZ different from the Congestion Charge?

Yes it’s different. So if you’re in a vehicle that needs to pay Congestion Charge and the ULEZ charge, you do need to pay both.

How can I get a grant for an electric car?

Benefiting from the grant is easy – as you don’t really have to do anything according to the GoUltraLow campaign. When you buy your new car, the dealership will complete all of the paperwork on your behalf at point of purchase.

The grant is administered by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) and they have set a number of criteria that eligible cars have to meet; these include ensuring all cars meet certain safety requirements.

Writing by Dan Grabham.

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