The Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) is an area of central London, in which certain vehicle owners are charged a rate daily for driving up to £12.50. These charges are dependant on the type of vehicle (car, van, lorry), as well as the emissions that the vehicles produce. The aim of the ULEZ is to reduce emissions in central London, meeting international and national green targets.

The ULEZ was originally introduced in April 2019, after the recognition that illegal levels of Particulate Matter (PM) and Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) were occurring in London; these levels contributed to the illness of the capital’s most vulnerable. The aim of the ULEZ when it was introduced was to reduce these dangerous levels of chemicals by around 30%.

The new ULEZ is over 18 times its original size, including Greenwich, Lewisham, Brent, Haringey, Waltham Forest and Newham, covering 3.8 million people. The aim of the expansion is to improve air quality within the capital, and so improving the health of residents. Toxic fumes in the capital are the cause of 4000 premature deaths (Mayor of London), so the expansion of the ULEZ area is a major step in the combat of diseases such as chronic airway. The reduction in emissions will also help to lessen London’s impact on climate change; it is estimated that there will be a reduction of nearly 100,000 tonnes in road-based carbon dioxide.

Although there are social and environmental positives, the ULEZ expansion will impact the residents who were previously unaffected. Even if you live in the ULEZ, you are not exempt from the charges. Andrew Pettitt, a Greenwich resident, said that “the charge may not be affordable for everyone” as the £12.50 fee is a high cost for low paid workers. He was also worried about “a rise in consumer prices”, as businesses whose deliveries drive through the ULEZ will have added expense, which could affect the  customer. However, the overall view was “there’s no harm in trying”.

There are some circumstances in which a vehicle is exempt from charges. If your car meets the Euro 4 standards (petrol) or Euro 6 standards (diesel), then you are not charged, as well as if your vehicle is a taxi, a vehicle for a disabled person, a minibus for community transport, and historic vehicles.

See ULEZ, London City Hall and Discounts and exemptions - Transport for London for more information about the ULEZ expansion, how it affects you and your vehicle, and if you are eligible for charge exemption.