On October 25 2021, the controversial ULEZ zone will expand from central London to include all of inner London, in an area bounded by the North and South Circular Roads. This program will, therefore, affect a much greater number of drivers who, if they drive a non-compliant vehicle, will be expected to pay a daily charge. If you think you could be affected by this expansion, you will want to know a lot more about your options and find out where the programme is in effect. What do you need to know about the new look ULEZ map?
ULEZ stands for Ultra Low Emission Zone, and the Mayor of London introduced the scheme in 2019. At that stage, the zone only covered central London over an area already affected by the existing Congestion Charge. Yet ULEZ was designed to go much further than the latter scheme and would affect non-compliant vehicles seven days per week, 24 hours per day. Drivers of these vehicles must pay a fee each day whenever they entered the zone.
Only certain vehicles are affected based on their emissions level and age. In fact, the government believes that 4 out of 5 vehicles are in compliance and that there is every incentive for other drivers to upgrade to avoid paying the charge. Indeed, figures show that a large number of Londoners have already taken action. There has been a significant reduction in the number of non-compliant vehicles within the existing zone since the government introduced the programme. More than 80% of vehicles driven within central London now meet the heightened emissions standards, compared to only 39% in February 2017. This has led to a 44% drop in the levels of nitrogen dioxide at the roadside.
Yet Inner London roads are busier than ever, and the government decided to expand the program to tackle issues over a wider area. Again, the goal is to encourage owners to trade in their old polluting vehicles, or if possible, switch to public transport.
If you are unable to upgrade or have not yet considered changing your vehicle to comply, you will want to know all about the new zone. TfL has developed a map to show the extent of the expansion and have an interactive map on the website. You can enter a postcode or an address to show where the scheme is operating within London.
How Does It Work?
The programme will use the latest technology to automatically record the presence of each vehicle within the new zone. There will be no physical barriers or tollbooths, but cameras will automatically read your number plate when you drive into or within the zone. This system is linked to the DVLA and will automatically check the registration number against a database of vehicles. It will then determine if your vehicle meets the stringent emission standards or not and will also show if you have any exemption or may be eligible for a discount. At that point, it will generate a record and trigger an outstanding charge.
If you have already paid the charge in advance, then that will close the transaction. If not, you will have up to midnight on the third day following the event to pay. When you do not pay the charge in accordance with the rules, the system will generate a fine and send a notice to your registered address.
If you park your vehicle within the area covered by the ULEZ zone map, but you do not actually drive it on a given day, you will not need to pay the charge.
If you drive a car, small van, or motorcycle you will need to pay £12.50 per day to drive within the new zone. If you operate a bus, coach, or lorry, you will need to pay £100 per day. If you fail to pay, you will get a fine of £160, which can be reduced to £80 if you pay immediately.
How Do You Know You are Entering the Zone?
TfL will place prominent signs along the new boundary. These are rectangular with a green background and white letters depicting "Ultra Low Emission Zone." They'll place additional signs at strategic locations along major roads and key arteries. These signs will give you plenty of notice that you are approaching the zone, so you can make alterations to your journey or be prepared to incur the charge.
What Boroughs are Affected?
The following boroughs are wholly or partially affected by the new London ULEZ map expansion:
Hammersmith and Fulham,
Kensington and Chelsea,
City of Westminster,
City of London,
Can I Claim an Exemption?
Very few drivers and vehicles will be able to avoid paying the charge once TfL applies it to the expanded area from October 2021.
Qualifying for 100% discount:
historic tax class vehicles,
vehicles built before January 1 1973,
vehicles not built or otherwise adapted for normal use on the road, such as mobile cranes,
Qualifying for a temporary 100% discount:
if you have registered your vehicle within the disabled or disabled passenger vehicle class, it will be exempt until October 26 2025.
If you operate a minibus as a not-for-profit organisation, then you will get a discount until October 29 2023. However, this does not apply to the central London ULEZ zone before October 25 2021. If you think you are eligible, you will need to apply to TfL for registration.
If TfL has licensed them, private hire vehicles converted to be wheelchair accessible will be exempt until October 26 2025.
No Longer Exempt
Central London residents will lose any exemption from October 25 2021. If you live in this area, you now have to pay the daily charge if you drive within the area covered by the ULEZ map in 2021.
The best way to avoid any ULEZ charge is to upgrade your current vehicle so that it complies with the latest Euro emissions standards. Otherwise, you need to be familiar with the new look ULEZ map and be prepared to pay for the daily privilege of driving within inner London.