Words by Rebecca Chitolie, News Editor
From the 25th October, London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), will expand from central London to the areas in between the North Circular Road and South Circular Road – although the two roads themselves will not be included in the zone.
Drivers of cars, motorbikes and some vans that don’t meet the new emission standards will need to pay a £12.50 charge before driving into this zone or face a £160 fine.
When the ULEZ expands the current rules will stay the same, but the area covered will be 18 times larger.
Whether the fees apply depends on where you drive within the zone – not where you live. If you move your car within the zone and it is picked up by cameras, you will be charged.
The current residents’ discount scheme that exists for those who live within the existing ULEZ zone will also be scrapped. Residents living within the area must pay the full £12.50/day charge to drive a vehicle that does not meet the low-emission standards, although you do not have to pay if your car is parked or stationary.
The Ultra-Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ), which came into effect in April 2019, operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year except for Christmas Day. It currently covers the same area in central London as the ‘Congestion Charge Zone’.
If you drive in, or own a vehicle and live within the zone, you can check your vehicle on the Transport for London website to see if you’re affected. Most vehicles driving in the ULEZ must meet tight emission standards or pay the daily charge which typically impacts those with older cars.
You can pay the charge up to 90 days before travelling. If you don’t pay in advance, you’ll need to pay by midnight on the third day after the journey.
The ULEZ is central to the Mayor of London’s plans to improve Londoners’ health. Its aim is to clean up the city’s toxic air, which leads to the early deaths of thousands of people every year. A statement produced by the mayor’s official website says “Air pollution is often more concentrated close to the source of emissions, such as traffic. This means that exposure and its health impacts are not distributed evenly across London: Independent research into the effects of the mayor’s air quality programme shows that by 2030 the exposure gap between the most and least deprived areas will be reduced by 71 percent and the exposure gap between areas with the highest and lowest proportion of BAME residents will be reduced by up to 85 per cent. The ULEZ expansion will deliver the most benefit in the areas that currently have the worst pollution.”
Many other areas of the UK are applying similar schemes including Bath, Birmingham, Durham, Oxford and Portsmouth with their own rules and charges to suppress emissions.