Drivers of nearly 700,000 cars in Greater London could be liable to pay the ULEZ charge when the zone is expanded this summer.
According to a freedom of information request made by the RAC, as of February 2023, 691,559 cars will be non-compliant because they are either petrol vehicles first registered prior to January 2006 or diesel cars registered prior to September 2015 – the key dates for meeting ULEZ standards.
As things stand, after August when the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) expands, they could be liable to pay the £12.50 daily charge.
However, the number of drivers affected once the zone grows is likely to be far higher when taking into account vehicles entering from bordering counties such as Kent, Hertfordshire and Essex.
Transport for London (TfL) estimates that around 160,000 non-compliant cars a day currently drive in the area that will become part of the expanded zone later this summer.
Drivers of affected vehicles who do not pay the £12.50 daily charge will a fine of up to £160.
To help mitigate the impact on drivers and businesses the Mayor of London has launched a £110m scrappage scheme which offers those eligible up to £2,000 towards buying a compliant vehicle.
“Cleaning up London’s air should undoubtedly be a priority, but the sheer number of vehicles that don’t meet ULEZ emissions standards in Greater London suggests there will be a massive financial impact on motorists and businesses through having to fork out £12.50 every day they drive in the zone,” said RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes.
“Changing to a compliant vehicle at such short notice simply won’t be something many will be able to afford, especially during a cost-of-living crisis and at a time when second-hand car prices are so high.”
How do drivers find out if their vehicle is ULEZ-compliant?
A petrol car registered pre-2006 is unlikely to meet the minimum Euro 4 emissions standards, while diesel cars first registered prior to September 2015 will probably not meet the Euro 6 standards which means they would need to pay the ULEZ charge.
Drivers should use TfL’s vehicle checker to find out if they need to pay or not. If they think the checker is incorrect, they should contact their vehicle’s manufacturer to gain proof of its Euro emissions standard which they can then use to challenge TfL.
Euro emissions standards were introduced in the 1990s to limit the level of pollutants emitted from a vehicle’s exhaust and have become stricter over the last 20 years for both petrol and diesel vehicles.
The original ULEZ scheme was introduced in April 2019 to cover central London before being expanded to the North/South Circular boundaries in October 2021.