The Central London Ultra Low Emissions Zone, or ULEZ is just weeks away from hitting the UK’s capital. If you happen to drive in the city, or you plan on doing so, then you’ll start to be affected as of the 8th April this year. You could even be hit by with a daily charge, or a hefty fine.
So, what exactly is involved? And will classic cars also be affected?
Essentially, the Ultra Low Emissions Zone will be an area in central London where cars will be subject to a daily charge. It’s been devised as a way of tackling the ever-growing problem of air pollution in the city.
Some low-emissions cars and other vehicles will of course be exempt from the charge, as long as they meet certain criteria. If they don’t, then they will have to pay the charge or risk being fined.
Where exactly will this apply?
To begin with, it will cover the same areas as the current Congestion Charge zone in London. If you want to check it out for yourself, then you can use the TfL postcode checker, and have a look see if your road falls within it. There are plans for the zone to expand beyond this area as well by 2021.
The new charge will apply 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including all public holidays. It will also be included in the Low Emissions Zone, which covers a far wider area, meaning some drivers may have to pay twice.
Will you have to pay?
If you drive a standard car in the area the zone covers then it’s likely you’ll need to pay. The TfL website contains details on the standards your vehicle will need to meet, in order to comply with the new regulations.
The general ULEZ standards your vehicle must meet, are as follows:
- Euro 3 for motorcycles, mopeds, motorised tricycles and quadricycles (L category).
- Euro 4 (NOx) for petrol cars, vans, minibuses and other specialist vehicles.
- Euro 6 (NOx and PM) for diesel cars, vans and minibuses and other specialist vehicles.
- Euro VI (NOx and PM) for lorries, buses and coaches and other specialist heavy vehicles (NOx and PM).
Petrol cars and diesel cars made after 2006 and 2015 respectively, will probably be exempt. However, it’s always best to check your registration, just to be certain.
What about classic cars?
Some classic cars will be among some of the key exceptions, thanks to a lengthy campaign geared towards historic vehicles in the new zone.
Essentially you won’t have to pay the ULEZ charge if you’re the owner of a classic car, which is over 40 years old and registered for the historic vehicle tax class. Basically if it was registered on or before the 8th April 1979, you’re exempt from any payments. However, this does mean that a large number of classics will still be affected by the new regulations.
How much is the charge?
When ULEZ is in affect, the charge for the majority of cars travelling within the zone will be £12.50. Larger vehicles, such as heavy goods lorries and buses will face a fee of £100. The weekday The current Congestion Charge of £11.50 will be added in top of this, and the same will apply to the bigger vehicle charges.
Keep in mind that the new charge will reset after midnight each day. Meaning you will be charged twice if you happen to drive into the zone at 23.59 and exit at 00:01.
How do you pay?
You’ll need to keep an eye-out for the signposts, which will tell you when you’re driving into the new zone. You number plate will be recorded by various cameras within the zone, to assess whether your vehicle meets the emissions standard.
In order to pay, you will be able to register automatically each time you enter the zone. There will also be an option to pay online, but this must be done within 24 hours from when you incur the charge. If you fail to pay by this time, then you’ll be risking a fine of £160, or £1000 for lorries.
Are there any other exceptions?
There will be some other criteria that allows for further exceptions from ULEZ, including:
- Commercial vehicles that were registered before 1 January 1973, including classics.
- Certain classes of vehicle, for example agricultural, military, or some not-for-profit minibuses and vehicles for disabled people.
- A time-limited ‘sunset period’ for existing residents of the zone, which until the 24th October 2021, will allow for a 100% discount from the ULEZ.
- An exemption for London-licensed taxis.