London ULEZ consultation opens

Boris Johnson's and Transport for London (TfL) plans for an ultra low emission zone (ULEZ) in central London have now gone out to consultation.

The ULEZ would require all vehicles driving in central London to meet new exhaust emissions standards and would take effect from 7 September 2020, and apply 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

A vehicle that does not meet the ULEZ standards could still be driven in central London but a daily charge would have to have been paid to do so.

The ULEZ is part of London's plan to improve air quality which according to TfL has improved significantly in recent years and is now considered compliant for all but one air pollutant for which the European Union has set legal limits.

That pollutant is nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which has impacts on public health. London is currently in breach of legal limits. An equivalent of 4,300 deaths in London is attributed to air quality related illness. In a recent study the World Health Organisation found that 90% of people in urban areas breathe air that is deemed unsafe.

The mayor says the ULEZ, which will cover the same area as the congestion charge zone, will be the first in the world and is essential for safeguarding Londoners' well-being. The Scottish Government is also considering low emissions zones (LEZs) in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

The British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) have welcomed the ULEZ proposals. BVRLA Chief Executive Gerry Keaney said: "London has to clean up its act, and the Mayor's proposals for an Ultra Low Emission Zone by 2020 will make a massive contribution. The Mayor's proposed 2020 implementation date makes sense as it gives businesses and individuals time to prepare, and doesn't punish them for vehicle choices they have recently made."

However, the Freight Transport Association (FTA) has asked why Londoners will have to wait until 2020 for the benefit of cleaner air before. Christopher Snelling, FTA's head of urban logistics and regional policy said: "Businesses are already operating some Euro VI HGVs today, despite the costs involved. If TfL provided the right incentives, we could ensure that those vehicles are used sooner in central London, which faces some of the most difficult air quality challenges in Europe."

Simon Birkett, Founder and Director of Clean Air in London, said: "The so-called ultra low emission zone is too small, too weak and too late. Worse, it is based on the Euro 6 engine emission standard for diesel vehicles when tests are already showing that real world emissions from such vehicles are many times greater than the standard. When combined with other flaws in the scheme (such as charging rather than banning older vehicles), the health benefits of the scheme from late 2020, which are still unquantified by the Mayor of London, are likely to be far less than needed to tackle the biggest public health risk after smoking. The only solution is to ban carcinogenic diesel exhaust from the most polluted places as coal burning was banned so successfully 60 years ago."

Vehicles whose emissions don't meet the ULEZ standards will need to pay a daily charge.

TfL is proposing that non-compliant lorries and coaches should pay £100 and cars, vans, minibuses and motorcycles, £12.50. This would be on top of the congestion charge. Public transport and private hire vehicles will also be required to comply with the ULEZ standards.

The table below is a summary of the proposed ULEZ standards and proposed charge if the vehicle is not compliant.


Vehicle Type Proposed emissions standard Maximum age of vehicle by 2020 Charge if not compliant
Motorcyle, moped etc Euro 3 13 years £12.50
Car and small van Euro 4 (petrol) Euro 6 (diesel) 14 years (petrol) 5 years (diesel) £12.50
Large van and minibus Euro 4 (petrol) Euro 6 (diesel) 13 years (petrol) 4 years (diesel) £12.50
HGV Euro VI 6 years £100
Bus/ coach Euro VI 6 years £100

Many vehicles would already meet these standards in 2020, however by introducing this requirement next year the Mayor and TfL aim to accelerate the take up of low emission vehicles and stimulate the low emission vehicle market.

Transport for London

Peter Thomas

Author:Peter Thomas
Date Updated:29th Oct 2014

Related news