London ULEZ expands becoming 18 times larger

27th October 2021

Ultra low emission zone sign in London

The ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) in London has expanded this week. Let’s go over which areas are affected and how these changes will impact drivers.

What is the ULEZ in London?

The ultra-low emission zone in London has been in operation since 2019. Drivers of vehicles emitting a certain level of pollution have to pay a charge for driving in the area.

For cars, motorcycles and vans that do not meet the emission standard, the daily charge for driving in this area is £12.50. Failure to pay the charge can result in a penalty as high as £160.

The daily charge for HGVs over 3.5 tonnes is much higher at £100. The penalty for lack of payment can be as high as £1,000.

This does mean that businesses operating in the ULEZ with HGVs are paying hefty charges to operate in this area, especially considering any additional costs put towards acquiring a HGV Safety Permit and complying with the Direct Vision Standard.

Whether vehicles need to pay a charge depends on whether they meet certain emission standards, measured from Euro 1 to Euro 6.

Which areas are now in the ULEZ?

Until recently, the ultra-low emission zone has only covered central London.

Now, however, the zone is being expanded. All areas within the North and South Circular roads are included in the low emission zone, meaning any drivers will have to pay the charge in this area if their vehicles do not meet the emissions standard.

This addition means that the zone is now 18 times larger than it was when first introduced in 2019!

Who is affected?

Drivers of EVs will of course be exempt from any charges. They do not emit harmful greenhouse gases, and therefore do not contribute to the problem that the ULEZ is hoping to tackle.

Most petrol cars and newer diesel cars are also safe from the charge. As a general rule, if your diesel car was first registered after September 2015, it is likely to be compliant with the emissions standards. The same goes for petrol cars registered from 2005 onwards.

However, it is estimated that about one in five cars will need to pay. 100,000 cars, 35,000 vans and 3,000 lorries are expected to be affected and subject to the charges.

To be exempt from the charges, your vehicle must not exceed a certain level of nitrogen dioxide emissions. Nitrogen dioxide is a harmful gas that damages lungs and makes life harder for sufferers of asthma and lung and heart disease.

ULEZ sign next to apartments

What are the benefits of expanding the zone?

The expected result of the expansion is that people will find alternative methods of travel. Instead of driving, they might opt for public transport or simply to walk or cycle.

As a result, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan states that the city will reduce the amount of carbon being emitted by over 100 tonnes, which is equivalent to taking 60,000 vehicles off the road.

Of course, this will have major health benefits for the residents of the expanded ULEZ. The area covered by the expansion is “eight times the size of Manchester” with a population of four million people.

Given that 60% of residents of this area don’t even own a car, the mayor claims it is fair that the air quality of this area is improved. Whilst the environmental benefits are obvious, Khan suggests that this is “an issue of social justice”, as it is the poorest of Londoners who suffer the most as a consequence of toxic air conditions.

The move to expand the zone has been met with some criticism, however, mainly due to timing. With many businesses still recovering from the pandemic, their finances may take additional hits due to these new rules. Paying the charge for each of their vehicles every day may prove difficult. However, transitioning to a fleet of low emissions vehicles may also not be feasible. To make things easier, TfL does offer a grant to businesses; they may receive £2,000 if they scrap their non-compliant vehicles in favour of a cleaner vehicle.

Will your business be impacted by the ULEZ expansion?

If your business operates within the expanded zone, you may find yourself paying the charges if your vehicles are not compliant.

In this case, it’s important to consider what else you can do to save money.

At Fuel Card Services, we offer a range of fleet services that are designed to save your business time and money. For example, a fuel card can help you save up to 10p per litre every time you fill up your vehicles – especially useful during rising prices!

Additionally, our Tele-Gence tracking software can improve your MPG by up to 20%, meaning you’ll get more out of every litre of fuel.

If you think your fleet could be saving money, get in touch with our dedicated team today.