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London’s New Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ)

You don’t have to be in the motor trade to know how costly driving can be. Not only do you need to pay out for your car fuel, road tax, MOT and your annual insurance policy, if you drive through the centre of London between 07.00 and 18.00 on a weekday, you also have to pay the city’s congestion charge of £11.50 per day. What’s more, from Monday 8th April 2019, motorists entering London’s newly created Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) at any time of day or night will be charged extra if their vehicles don’t meet stringent emissions standards. So, what do you need to know about the new ULEZ and how can you avoid paying the extra fee?

Diesel fumesThe ULEZ – Where is it and how much will you need to pay?
Initially, the boundaries of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone will be the same as those of the Congestion Charge Zone (CCZ), so if you’re driving through an area within the London Inner Ring Road, such as the City of London or the West End, you could be liable to pay both fees. The good news is that the ULEZ charge replaces the £10 per day Toxicity Charge (T-charge) that motorists driving petrol or diesel vehicles that don’t meet Euro 4 emissions standards paid since October 2017. The bad news is that the ULEZ charge is more expensive. The drivers of most cars, motorbikes, mopeds and vans whose vehicles fail to meet the relevant standards will be subject to a £12.50 daily charge, while those with non-compliant lorries, buses and coaches will be forced to pay an eye-watering £100 per day.

The emissions standards that apply to vehicles entering the ULEZ are slightly different from those used for the T-charge, so it’s important to make sure that you know what they are. Thankfully, however, you can find the details on Transport for London’s website.

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How can you ensure you don’t have to pay the ULEZ charge?
If you live within the Ultra-Low Emission Zone, your car is registered with the DVLA within the “disabled” or “disabled passenger” tax classes, or you operate a designated wheelchair-accessible private hire vehicle, you may be able to apply for a temporary exemption from the charge. Your vehicle may also be exempt if it’s more than 40 years old, a military or agricultural vehicle, or a vehicle such as a mobile crane or excavator. Other than that, you can only avoid paying by steering clear of the area completely or swapping your non-compliant car for one with lower emissions.
Local authorities and the government are trying to meet tough environmental targets, so it’s likely that you’ll soon encounter zones like this elsewhere too. London’s ULEZ will be expanded to cover inner London in 2021 but lorries, coaches and buses will have to meet strict emissions standards when driving anywhere in the city from 26 October 2020. Birmingham City Council has already announced that it will be introducing a clean air zone next year and other cities could soon follow suit.

This all means it might soon be worth taking a trip to your local new and used car motor dealership to find a vehicle which complies to the relevant standards, as well as shopping around for your car insurance policy and comparing fuel prices at different petrol stations if you want to cut your motoring costs.