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London Ultra Low Emission Zone set to expand

 Published 10th September 2021
Driver Guides  General Guides 

Time is running out to ensure your business is operating compliant vehicles in the London Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ). The area covered is set to expand dramatically from 25 October 2021.

Transport for London launched the ULEZ in April 2019, covering central London and the same eight square mile area as the long-running Congestion Charge Zone.

When introduced, proposals always included plans to expand the ULEZ zone, with the intention to tackle air quality issues within the capital. From late October onwards, the new ULEZ zone will now cover everything within the North and South Circular roads.

Travel on each of the North and South Circulars will not incur any ULEZ charge, but everything within the ring road will see fees automatically applied for any vehicle not meeting the ULEZ emission standards.

This excludes any petrol car or van meeting Euro 4 standards or better, while diesel vehicles require a Euro 6 certificate to be exempt from the ULEZ charge. Broadly speaking, this includes models first registered after 2005 for petrol vehicles, and 2015 for diesels.

Charges for not meeting ULEZ standards

Without meeting those emission requirements, drivers will be charged £12.50 a day, potentially impacting more than half a million drivers who have driven within the expanded area this year. City Hall administration centre estimates that one-in-five vehicles currently seen within the forthcoming larger ULEZ will be charged should they not be replaced.

Residents living within the new ULEZ receive no discount or exemption, and charges run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, even Christmas Day. Payment covers a 24-hour period, so drivers are not charged for heading in and out of the zone multiple times within a day.

There have been a range of scrappage schemes and support for businesses within the new zone to support a transition to lower-emission vehicles, though much of this financial aid has now been fully subscribed.

As such, for many drivers and fleet operators, a switch to newer, cleaner models through leasing is often the best prospect to reduce costs for driving in London. After all, a driver entering the zone five days a week will easily rack up more than £3,000 per year in ULEZ fees in a non-compliant car or van.

The growth of Clean Air Zones

The system sees London continue to lead the way in the UK in terms of urban transport enforcement zones. With continued air pollution issues across most of the UK's towns and cities, there are proposals for ULEZ and Clean Air Zones (CAZ) for locations such as Bristol, Oxford, Bath, Leeds, and Birmingham. Find out more about them in our guide here .

Initial concerns against the scheme were that by expanding the zone to the boundaries of the North and South Circular roads, the areas bordering the outer limits would see air quality get significantly worse as drivers stick to the ring road to avoid being charged for cutting through the middle of London.

In fact, the opposite is expected to happen, with Dr Gary Fuller from the School of Public Health at Imperial College London, saying: “Many people worry about highly polluting vehicles diverting around the zone and moving the problem.

“However, evidence from London's original low emission zone [for lorries], the central ULEZ and from schemes in Germany show that cleaner vehicles used inside the zone also drive in the areas around it, spreading the benefits.”

Air pollution in London is attributed to around 4,000 deaths in 2019 alone according to the Mayor of London's office. A number of regions within London and other UK urban centres regularly exceed the legal limits set for emissions linked with local air quality, such as NOx and PMs, as well as the more well-known CO2.

“There's no question that both the car and van have been responsible for urban air quality issues, but there's plenty businesses can do to minimise the impact of vehicles,” says Rob Marshall, Operations Director at Gateway2Lease. “The latest vehicles feature fully zero emission capabilities - both cars and vans - and where full electrification might be an issue, plug-in hybrids offer an alternative where they can be set to run in zero emission mode while in city zones.

“With more and more cities needing to tackle air quality issues with designated Clean Air Zones, now is the time to switch to cleaner and zero emission vehicles, with the added opportunity to benefit from lower running costs and lower taxation.”

You can find whether your existing vehicle meets ULEZ requirements here . Alternatively, take a look at the latest Hot Offers from Gateway2Lease to start leasing vehicles that are fully compliant.

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