What Is London’s ULEZ And How Can phs Compliance Help?


If you or your staff live, work or travel into London regularly, you’re probably familiar with the charges you have to pay to access the capital.

One of these is to access London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) to reduce the amount of high-polluting vehicles driving on the city’s roads and aiming to improve air quality. However, as the zone is restricted to the heart of the city and not outer London, it may not have applied to you or your staff; until now.

This year, the scope of the restrictions will be far more widespread as, from August 2023, the ULEZ is set to be extended across the entire capital.

In this article, we’ll give you the lowdown on the ULEZ and what it could mean for you and your staff who drive in London when it comes into effect.

What is the ULEZ?

In London, there is anUltra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) which covers Central London. This includes all areas within the North and South Circular Roads – although the North Circular (A406) and South Circular (A205) are excludedfrom the zone.

Vehicles which don’t meet the ULEZ emissions standards will be subject to a £12.50 daily charge to drive inside the zone. This is in addition to London’s congestion charge.

However, from 29 August 2023, the ULEZ is set to expand across all London boroughs.

Why is there an ULEZ?

The ULEZ was introduced to discourage older, polluting vehicles from being driven in Central London, aimed at tackling high air pollution levels.

As Europe’s biggest city, London is cited as being one of the most polluted places in the UK, regularly breaching safe air pollution limits.

With exposure to air pollution contributing towards respiratory infections, heart disease, lung cancer, it is reported that in London, 9,400 premature deaths are attributed to poor air quality and cost the health service up to £3.7bn a year. The ULEZ was designed to reduce the level of air pollution, creating a cleaner environment.

Through the ULEZ, drivers are essentially being financially penalised if they have an older, high-polluting vehicle and are therefore more likely to change their behaviours; such as upgrading to a less polluting vehicle, choosing public transport or walking, car sharing or making the switch to electric vehicles.

Why is the ULEZ expanding?

The London Atmospheric emissions Inventory (LAEI, 2019) reports that road transport is the single biggest contributor of nitrogen dioxide and particulate emissions in Greater London. The Transport for London cites that Londoners are suffering from cancer, asthma and lung disease and are even dying prematurely due to air pollution and that the greatest number of deaths related to air pollution occur in outer London areas. As a result, the ULEZ is being expanded across all London boroughs from 29 August 2023.

Who does the ULEZ charge apply to?

The ULEZ charge is based on the declared emissions of a vehicle as follows.

For cars, vans and minibuses:

  • Petrol: Minimum emissions standard of Euro 4 (NOx). If your car was registered after 2005, it is likely it will meet the standard. All new petrol vans sold from January 2006 should meet the standard.
  • Diesel: Minimum emissions standard of Euro 6 (NOx and PM). If your car was registered after September 2015, it is likely it will meet the standard. All new diesel vans sold from September 2016 should meet the standard.

Lorries, vans and specialised heavy vehicles over 3.5 tonnes and buses, minibuses and coaches over 5 tonnes do not need to pay the daily ULEZ charge. However, they will need to pay the London-wide Low Emission Zone (LEZ) if they do not meet these emissions standards.

To check if your vehicle meets emissions standards and if the ULEZ charge (as well as the LEZ and congestion charge) applies to you, visit the TfL vehicle checker.

When does the London ULEZ apply?

The London ULEZ will operate 24 hours a day, every day of the year except for Christmas Day.

How much is the ULEZ?

The charge to drive within the ULEZ in London is £12.50 per day. If you enter the zone, this fee must be paid by midnight on the third day following the journey. Charging hours are from midnight to midnight. Failure to pay can result in fines of up to £160.

Are there any discounts or exemptions to the ULEZ?

If your vehicle meets minimum emissions standards, you will not need to pay the ULEZ charge. Check if the charge applies to you on the TfL vehicle checker.

The following exemptions may apply for:

  • Blue badge drivers who are registered with the DVLA as having a ‘disabled’ or ‘disabled passenger’ vehicle tax class will benefit from a grace period and are exempt from paying the charge until October 2027.
  • Hospital patients who are too ill to travel to an appointment on public transport may be eligible for a refund of the ULEZ charge.
  • London-licensed taxis: Older, polluting taxis are subject to a 12-year age limit with newer, cleaner taxis subject to a 15-year limit.
  • Not-for-profit oranisations using minibuses for the community can apply for an exemptionfrom the charge until October 2025.
  • Wheelchair-accessible private hire vehicles (PHVs) for private bookings will have a grace period until October 2027.
  • Other exemptions may apply to vehicles more than 40 years old, specialist agricultural vehicles, military vehicles, non-road vehicles allowed to drive on the highway, certain mobile cranes and showman’s vehicles.

For full details of exemptions, visit the TfL website.

How to avoid the ULEZ charge?

There are several ways to avoid the ULEZ charge, the most obvious is by seeking alternative modes of transport such as walking, cycling or using public transport including trains, buses and the underground. You can also car share if you need to travel within London.

However, you may consider upgrading your vehicle for a cleaner, less-polluting vehicle which is not only better for the environment but will be exempt from the ULEZ charge. To help, the Mayor of London has announced a vehicle scrappage scheme with grants of up to £2,000 available to scrap or retrofit older vehicles. This only applies to applicants of vehicles that do not meet the ULEZ emissions standards. There are also options to combine a grant with an annual bus and tram pass to encourage the use of public transport. More details are available on the scrappage scheme here.

If you want to do even better by the environment and eliminate emissions from your vehicle or your company’s vehicle fleet altogether, you may be interested in making the switch to electric vehicles – particularly as we move closer to the Government’s 2030 ban on the sale of petrol and diesel cars. This will not only exempt your vehicle(s) from the ULEV charge, saving you money and the administrative headache, but you’ll also be substantially reducing your carbon footprint.

Of course, when making the switch the electric vehicles, the right infrastructure must be in place. To support the roll-out of electric vehicles for organisations, phs Compliance is at hand. We are experienced in offering electric vehicle charging unit installations with a team of fully qualified electrical engineers to service your needs.

In addition, phs Compliance has partnered with one of the leading suppliers of EV charging units, ROLEC, and are registered with OLEV (the office for low emission vehicles) to install smart solution electric vehicle chargers. As well as being high-tech with GPRS connectivity, they are also grant refundable as part of the Government’s OLEV scheme.

Interested in finding out more? Get in touch with phs Compliance today.

To book a service, get in touch on 02920 9809 098 or fill out a contact form.

To learn more about our what Compliance offers, to get a quote, or simply to ask a query, please feel free to contact us now!

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