ULEZ has arrived: What does this mean?

At the end of January 2018, one month into the new year and resolutions are in full flow. Some succeed but many fail, some lasting little over a few days without chocolate, cigarettes or wine, but the initial hope existed. For London however, 31 days was all it took the capital to reach its annual legal limit for air pollution.

A month may seem shocking, however, in the past decade, air pollution throughout the city had reached its annual allowable peak within just a week.

The improvements, despite being fairly minimal at this stage, are owed to the concerted efforts of Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. The mayor referred to the situation as, “a matter of life and death”, and his statement is not unfounded. A study by the Royal College of Physicians reported that 40,000 deaths every year in the UK are linked to outdoor air pollution, causing cancer, heart disease and strokes, among a variety of other illnesses.

On April 8th, Khan took a further step towards cleaning up the city, as he implemented an Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) throughout London, in a bid to tackle the city’s toxic air. Here with Lookers, Ford servicing specialists, we explain what  ULEZ means and its impact going forward in the capital.

What is ULEZ?

Introduced in the same area as the congestion charge, ULEZ is effectively a fine for older vehicles that travel through the city centre. Transport for London pointed to the fact 1.5million diesel cars and 500,000 petrol c had failed to meet ULEZ standards in 2018.

If your vehicle doesn’t comply with the standards you will be liable to pay the daily charge, but unlike the congestion charge, which was introduced to lower the amount of traffic, ULEZ isn’t time restricted. In fact, it operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There’s a further sting, particularly for the likes of taxi drivers, as the charge is calculated per calendar day, as opposed to every 24-hour period. This means if you enter the zone at 11pm and leave again at 1am, you will be charged twice.

Am I going to be affected?

There’s a fairly easy way to calculate whether or not your car is liable for charging. The minimum emission standards are Euro 4 for petrol, Euro 6 for diesel. If you don’t know what your emissions are, check in either your car’s registration documents, or on the frame of the door on the passenger’s side.

The general rule of thumb is if you have a petrol car that’s older than September 2005, or a diesel car that is older than September 2015, you will face the charge. The charge is currently set at £12.50, however there is nothing to suggest that this price will not change over the course of time. For lorries entering the zone, a charge of £100 will be incurred.

‘What happens if I don’t pay?’, is a phrase which has found itself resonating with many, and the answer is a £160 fine, which is reduced to £80 within a fortnight.

For those on bikes and mopeds, a popular delivery choice among some of London’s finest takeaway establishments, the £12.50 charge will still apply, however usually if the bike is newer than 2007, then you should be ULEZ free.

There is a way around the charges if your vehicle doesn’t meet the standard. You may potentially be able to fit a diesel particulate filter to your vehicle which reduces the level of emissions.

The what ifs…

If you live within the boundary of ULEZ, the government are giving you a two-and-a-half-year period free of charge, which is deemed as a sufficient period of time to allow motorists to change their cars for a more ULEZ friendly alternative. If you haven’t changed your model by this stage, the full daily charge will apply.

Similarly, black cabs throughout the city have been made exempt from the charge, as the Mayor introduced a new licensing system for taxis. Meanwhile, if you’re car is deemed classic, you will also avoid the ULEZ charge, unless you’re using it for commercial purposes, as will drivers of disabled vehicles.


More than half of the nitrogen oxides emissions comes from transport. All the buses throughout the city have been developed to meet the highest emission standards, and those operating in the ULEZ area will either be a higher rating than the cars, or electric.

By reducing the amount of nitrogen oxide and particulate matter, children, the elderly, and those suffering from respiratory problems, will benefit massively — a small charge for a clean city.

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