FURIOUS drivers have slammed the London ULEZ shake-up as “nonsense” as more drivers are hit with charges.
The London Ultra-Low Emission Zone boundary vastly expanded earlier this week, meaning drivers of older cars and vans will have to pay a £12.50 charge for every day they enter it.
It now covers everywhere inside the North and South Circular roads, a huge residential area – and if motorists don’t pay the daily charge, they’ll be hit with a £160 fine.
The ULEZ extension is designed to push people into greener cars, or to use public transport more, to clean up the capital’s air.
But angry drivers have taken to social media blasting the charges, calling them “nonsense”.
Read our ULEZ live blog below for the latest news and updates…
firstname.lastname@example.org minutes ago
Are hybrid cars exempt?
Petrol-electric hybrid cars follow the same rules as normal petrol cars, and must be Euro 4 compliant, while diesel-electric hybrid cars must be Euro 6 compliant.
Most hybrids will be exempt from the charge. But some older models, such as the original Toyota Prius, will incur the fee.
email@example.com minutes ago
Why has ULEZ been introduced?
The scheme is designed to push people into greener cars, or to use public transport more, to clean up the capital’s air.
Sadiq Khan says air pollution is the city's “invisible killer”.
The gases that come out of the typical car's exhaust pipes have been linked to asthma, cancer and dementia.
firstname.lastname@example.org minutes ago
When is the ULEZ in force?
The daily charge runs from midnight to midnight, seven days a week, every day of the year except for on Christmas Day.
Failure to pay will result in a fine of £160 for cars, vans and motorbikes which will be reduced to £80 if paid within 14 days.
Lorries, coaches and larger vans will be charged £100 a day, with a £1,000 fine for failing to pay on time, reduced to £500 if paid within 14 days.
email@example.com minutes ago
Can I take my motorbike into the zone?
Motorbikes, scooters, mopeds and other internal combustion two-wheeled vehicles will need to be Euro 3 emissions standards compliant.
That means that if they were first registered after 2007, they’re probably going to be allowed into the ULEZ area without incurring a charge.
If they’re older than this, though, they may need to be paid for before they enter the zone.
You can check whether your motorcycle is compliant using the TfL website.
What is the Paris agreement?
At the Paris climate change summit in 2015 world leaders agreed to reduce greenhouse emissions to a point where we can keep the average rise in global temperatures to 1.5c by 2100.
But a UN report published earlier this week said even with the current promises on emissions temperatures will still rise to 2.7c.
Current promises will only see a 7.5% decline in emissions worldwide – to meet the target they need to decline 55% ON TOP of that.
Less than half of London motorists were aware of the ULEZ charge
A survey of 2,005 motorists – with at least 1,500 from London and 500 living within an hour of the capital – indicated that only 43% are aware of the expansion.
More than one million letters have been sent to people who have driven within the new boundaries to alert them, while more than 600,000 leaflets have been delivered to residents in the new area.
What is the Congestion Charge?
The congestion charge was first introduced in 2003 by then-Mayor Ken Livingstone to reduce traffic and pollution in central London.
It is based on a similar scheme in Singapore which is designed to push drivers to take alternative routes or switch to public transport.
The scheme typically charges around £15 a day – and you now have to pay it ON TOP of the ULEZ charge.
It covers the City of London, parts of Westminster and parts of Lambeth.
What is Net Zero?
As well as improving air quality the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) is designed to reduce London’s carbon emissions.
This is part of the wider UK commitment to get to Net Zero carbon emissions by 2030.
Particles that come out of the exhaust pipes of cars with diesel or petrol engines go up into the atmosphere and trap heat from the Sun – causing the 'greenhouse effect'.
However, it is important to remember Net Zero means the UK is no longer emitting any of these gases – not that there are zero greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
How do I pay the charge?
The ULEZ charge can be paid for on the TfL website.
Simply confirm your vehicle’s registration mark and the country of registration, before selecting which day you wish to pay for.
The site will give you the option to either pay for single charging days or Calendar view to pay for a block of charges or a single day in the future.
If you do not pay you face a £160 fine – but that can be reduced to £80 if you pay quickly.
One rule for them…
While the new ULEZ charge is designed to make motorists make greener choices, there is one group that can still pass on the pain.
In total 86 Tory MPs were identified as having expensed green charges, including several current and former ministers.
They include Northern Ireland minister Conor Burns, who claimed £302, and Wales minister David TC Davies who pocketed over £192.
There were also 24 Labour politicians on the list such as shadow home secret Nick Thomas-Symonds and high profile backbencher Jess Philips.
Even the speaker of the Commons, Lindsay Hoyle, expensed £25 worth of road charges in March this year.
Read more here
Windsurfing to work
A man is WINDSURFING on his commute in protest at the new charge.
Croydon based George Alting, 25, attached a sail to a skateboard and took off across the capital to prove a point about the controversial scheme.
He said it was not fair to increase the levy on drivers so they go green without making other options cheapers.
He told MyLondon: “It’s supposedly for environmental reasons that the zone is expanding but Sadiq isn’t lowering the cost of the Tube.
“The trains and TfL prices are just pretty expensive when you add them up, and you’re doing it every day.”
Which other UK cities have similar schemes?
Several major cities have similar schemes or plan to introduce them.
Birmingham has a Clear Air Zone with the same emissions standards as the ULEZ and that is £8 a day.
Central Bristol is the next city to follow next summer, with a charge of £9 a day.
Scotland’s four biggest cities plan to bring in zones in 2022. You can’t pay a charge to let in vehicles that do not comply. You either stay out or get a £60 fine.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the Channel, Paris has regular 'Car-free days' (Journee sans voiture) where all non-essential vehicles are banned from the city centre on certain Sundays.
The price of (carbon) freedom
Rishi Sunak scrapped a planned fuel duty rise in the Budget yesterday but the days of the levy itself may be numbered.
The price of being on the road combination of fuel duty and “vehicle excise duty” (known colloquially as road tax) generates around £37bn for the government.
That’s around 1.7% of our GDP.
But with a number of other “carbon-intensive” revenue streams, income from VED and fuel duty is expected to decrease to zero by 2050 as the country strives to meet its climate commitments.
This means that the shortfall will have to be made up for somehow, possibly with plans such as pay-per-mile road pricing.
What support is there for switching to electric?
The switch to electric vehicles is likely to be expensive, especially in relation to the relative cheapness of second-hand petrol and diesel cars.
The government has pledged to support the roll-out of electric vehicles with £620m of funding.
This money will go towards “targeted” plug-in vehicle grants, which are expected to apply for households buying cars as well as businesses buying vans.
Cars and vans currently contribute around a fifth of domestic emissions, and transport in general represents over a quarter.
Phasing out the most harmful – fossil fuel powered internal combustion engines – is a priority under the UK Net Zero strategy.
London drivers ditch diesel faster rest of UK
New research has suggested London drivers are going green at a much faster rate than the rest of the UK.
A survey published by the Clean Cities Campaign says there are 128,000 fewer diesel cars on the city’s roads than in 2017.
The campaign credited the introduction of the ULEZ in 2019 for the change.
The charity's boss, Oliver Lord, told the Guardian: “The expansion of the ultra-low emission zone is monumental and has turbo-charged the end of diesel cars in London.”
The end of the road for the dirty engine
The days of your beloved old diesel or petrol motor may be numbered.
The government has confirmed its plans to ban the sale of any petrol or diesel car from 2030 and any hybrid car from 2035.
All cars from 2035 will be zero-emission, which means that they will either be battery-electric or hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.
Car manufacturers will be given a zero-emission mandate. This means that a certain percentage of all their sales will need to be zero-emission vehicles from the year 2024.
From 2040, the zero-emission rules for cars will extend to motorcycles and lorries too.
Are electric cars exempt?
Electric cars are exempt from the ULEZ charge.
This includes every mainstream EV of any age, plus any vehicle that has been properly converted and registered as a battery car.
Motorists are being encouraged to adopt electric cars instead of petrol or diesel models, especially if they frequently drive in urban areas.
If this has made you think it is time to make the switch, here is where you can check out if there is an electric charging point near you.
TfL says four out of five registered vehicles are ULEZ compliant
Transport for London (TfL) said four out of five vehicles registered within the new, larger zone are compliant.
The new charges apply to every diesel vehicle which does not meet the Euro 6 exhaust standard. For petrol it is the Euro 4 standard.
But this leaves an estimated 130,000 vehicles which do not and face a £12.50 per day charge.
What is the grace period?
A grace period is in operation for people who are registered with a disability or have disabled passenger tax class.
They’ll be exempt from the ULEZ charge until October 26, 2025, as long as their vehicle doesn’t change tax class.
BUT this is does not apply to blue badge holders.
How to keep costs down?
With new charges along with rising fuel and gas prices it is getting hard to afford to run a car.
If you are one of the many for whom going completely is impractical or unaffordable it might be a good idea to read up on how you can save.
There are cost-cutting steps you can take, such as car-pooling and sharing lifts. This will allow yourself to cut the cost of the charge by half if joining someone on the way to work.
There are also simple things you can do to make a tank of fuel last longer, such as making sure your tyres are at the right pressure.
How much money will the ULEZ make?
By charging £12.50 a day, cash-strapped TfL will raise between £700million and £1.5billion.
The congestion charge only brings in £230million a year.
Tfl had to be bailed out by the Government last year after the pandemic lead to a dramatic fall in revenues from public transport.
Is it cheaper to get the tube?
Broadly speaking the ULEZ covers Zones 1 to 3 of the London Underground.
For adult travelling during both on peak and off peak the maximum they will pay on Oyster is £8.70 or £43.50 a week.
The new charge is £12.50 for every day in the zone. So imagining a five-day a week commute that racks up to £62.50 a week – without considering other costs such as fuel, taxes and the congestion charge if it applies.
Scrappage scheme suspended due to demand
A scheme that offered £2,000 grant for certain groups to trade in their non-complaint vehicles has been suspended.
Tfl said certain small businesses, charities and Londoners who are disabled or on low incomes could apply for financial help to scrap a non-ULEZ compliant car and purchase a cleaner vehicle.
But the schemes for vans, minibuses and lorries have been suspended due to “unprecedented demand and limited funds”.
Certain groups, such as the disabled or community groups, have a grace period to change their cars before they have to pay the charge.
When London was consumed with smog
Sadiq Khan is not the first politician to try to do something about air quality in London.
From the Industrial Revolution to the early 1950s, London would often be covered in think 'pea-soup' fog which made it hard to see and did serious damage to people's lungs.
The smog was thought to have been particularly deadly to the very old, the very young and people with respiratory diseases like asthma.
It was derived from the smoke given off by the burning of coal for home heating and in industrial processes.
But following the “Great Smog of 1952” in which 4,000 people died in a few days – in scenes recreated during the first session of Netflix' The Crown – the government were forced to act.
They passed the Clean Air Act (1956) which dramatically improved air quality in London and other major cities.
Coventry drivers PAID to give up polluting cars
DRIVERS in Coventry are being offered £3,000 to give up their highly polluting cars.
The money is being given in the form of a cash card which they can use on greener forms of transport such as buses, trains, bicycles, electric scooters, car clubs and taxis.
Nearly 150 people have already been given the grant as part of a trial scheme taking place in the city in the West Midlands.
The scheme is designed to tackle the “most polluting” cars such as diesel vehicles built before 2016 and petrol models made before 2006.