London's ULEZ Expansion Comes Into Force, Covering ALL London Boroughs
The Ultra Low Emission Zone in London now covers all London borough from today (29 August 2023). Having been first introduced in Central London to mirror the same zone as the Congestion Charge, ULEZ was first introduced by Mayor Sadiq Khan in April 2019, following initial plans by predecessor Boris Johnson in 2015. 2012 saw the expansion of ULEZ from Central London to the boundaries of the North and South Circular roads. Plans were made for further expansions to the whole of London, covering ALL 32 London boroughs, resulting in an additional 5 million people living within the ULEZ. Despite the discontent caused, TfL claim that 95% of cars and 83% of vans already meet the standard, meaning those drivers will not have to pay the daily charge.
ULEZ operates 24 hours a day, every day with the exception of Christmas Day. Pricing depends on the type of vehicle, although most drivers are liable for a £12.50 per day charge if their vehicle does not meet the required emissions standard.
Motorbikes must meet the Euro 3 standards, which is most motorbikes post-2007.
Petrol cars and vans must meet Euro 5 standards as a minimum, making most vehicles post-2006 ULEZ compliant. Diesel cars and vans, however, must meet Euro 6 standards, making most vehicles post-2015 ULEZ compliant. As mentioned, prices for other vehicles vary; lorries, buses and coaches that do not meet Euro VI will be required to pay £100 per day.
The ULEZ Debate
The expansion of ULEZ sparked uproar and controversy amongst residents of London, those who commute into work and politicians. Whilst TfL and Sadiq Khan claimed that Nitrous Oxide (NOx) had dropped by 20% in inner London since the introduction of ULEZ, independent research by the Imperial College London suggested that this estimate was too high, and that ULEZ had not been as effective at reducing harmful emissions as claimed by TfL. There were many calls from politicians and the general public for Khan to abandon plans to cover all London boroughs, with some even calling for the scrappage in its entirety.
Some boroughs' councils, such as Bexley, Bromley, Harrow and Hillingdon attempted to challenge the legality of ULEZ in the High Court in May 2023. Citing a failure by TfL to comply with statutory requirements and the use of unfair and unlawful consultation, the claim was heard by the court in July 2023 but was dismissed later that month, permitting ULEZ to go ahead.
A great number of pressure groups and protest groups were established to protest the expansion, with some taking it a step further and actively damaging, destroying or removing the ULEZ cameras. In some London boroughs in recent weeks, nearly all of the ULEZ cameras were targeted by protestors and destroyed. Videos of the cameras being taken down or having their wires cut went viral on social media, with the movement becoming known as "Blade Runners". The Metropolitan Police officially launched an investigated into the acts of criminal damage but, at the time of writing, have yet to make any arrests. ULEZ has been a big part of the pledges made by candidates for London Mayor in the upcoming vote, with some claiming that they will scrap ULEZ altogether.
In further protest and lack of support for the scheme, 6 councils who are effected by the ULEZ expansion have refused to put up signage. Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Essex, Kent, Surry and Thurrock Councils have all refused to display the signage.
Overall, there has been very little support for the ULEZ expansion, and Khan has come under great fire for what has been dubbed the "war of motorists". Seen by many as a money-making scheme with the environmental reasons hidden deep in the background, in a time of economic crisis working-class people have expressed their anger at being charged to drive in the capital.
- How much is ULEZ and how do I pay?
ULEZ is £12.50 per day for cars, vans and motorbikes. You can check if your vehicle is compliant on the TfL ULEZ website. This is also where you pay if you have entered the zone. TfL recommend that drivers set up an account with them, whereby they will automatically be charged in they enter the zone to avoid fines for non-payment.
- What are the fines and can I appeal?
Fines are £180, reduced to £90 if paid within 14 days. Drivers have the write to appeal the fine within 28 days of it being issued.
In short, there are no real exemptions to ULEZ and residents of London are liable to pay, meaning a short commute can now cost £12.50. Check TfL's website for further information on the limited exemptions that may apply.