London's ULEZ To Cover the Whole Capital Starting Next Year Despite Opposition

You might need a much cleaner car if you want to drive in London without paying various charges starting in 2023. The Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) is set to cover the entire London area, effectively overlapping the Low Emission Zone (LEZ). Here’s what you need to know.
London Traffic 6 photos
Photo: Laurenz Kleinheider on Unsplash
London TrafficThe ULEZ in August, 2023The Congestion Charge AreaThe Current ULEZ AreaULEZ and Congestion Zone Signage
London’s mayor Sadiq Khan is bent on making the air of the UK’s capital city much cleaner. Even though consultations held with the public and various other private entities resulted in a disagreement, the official announced on Friday that the ULEZ will expand.

“Cleaner air is coming to outer London. (…) We’re expanding the ULEZ,” said Khan.

The ULEZ is enforced 24/7 throughout the year. The only exception is Christmas, the 25th of December. Drivers of older cars, motorcycles, vans, minibusses, and trucks who want to enter London’s city center are forced to pay £12.5 ($15.1) per day. This charge is applied to most of the aforementioned vehicles that are gas-powered and made before 2006. The rules for diesel-powered ones are stricter – only those that are manufactured from 2016 onwards don’t have to pay.

This means that cars running on gas must at least respect the Euro 4 standard, while the diesel ones must comply with the Euro 6 standard.

Until the 29th of August, 2023, this charge will be paid only by those who have older cars and want to drive through the greater center area. Starting next year, the ULEZ will expand to cover the entire London. Owners of older, more polluting vehicles will have to start paying to enter London or drive through it on their way to work. Initial estimates show this move might affect around 200,000 vehicles.

Zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) are exempt from this charge, according to Transport for London.

To support those that have older cars and want to change them, London’s mayor announced that people receiving certain benefits will be able to apply for a scrappage scheme. Those eligible will receive:
  • £2,000 ($2,415) if they scrap a car;
  • £1,000 ($1,207) if they scrap a motorcycle;
  • £5,000 ($6,037) if they scrap a wheelchair-accessible vehicle;
  • £5,000 ($6,037) to retrofit a wheelchair-accessible vehicle.

In addition, yearly bus and train passes will be awarded to those that can’t drive their cars anymore, while public transportation will improve to accommodate an anticipated increased number of passengers.

Londoners or those visiting the Capital’s center currently must also pay the daily congestion charge. Discounts apply to residents, impaired drivers, cleaner vehicles, and tricycles. It’s £15 ($18.1) if it’s paid in advance, or £17.5 ($21.1) if the payment is made after driving through the area.

The former prime minister and mayor of London Boris Johnson, who conceptualized the ULEZ in 2015, said over a week ago that expanding it in 2023 would be wrong. The politician underlined that the £12.5 ($15.1) charge would “add to people’s cost of living.”

Finally, the mayor’s plans could be challenged in court. It remains to be seen if the expansion of the ULEZ will hold.

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About the author: Florin Amariei
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Car shows on TV and his father's Fiat Tempra may have been Florin's early influences, but nowadays he favors different things, like the power of an F-150 Raptor. He'll never be able to ignore the shape of a Ferrari though, especially a yellow one.
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