Up to 350,000 London motorists facing charge when ULEZ expanded

Up to 350,000 London motorists are facing £12.50-A-DAY charge when Ultra Low Emission Zone is expanded in 12 months with some Ford Focus, Fiat Panda and Vauxhall Astra models among most polluting vehicles

  • Drivers in London  have until October 2021 to ditch their old polluting cars  
  • Motorists to be hit with £12.50 daily fee if their vehicle does not meet standards
  • Come as the Ultra Low Emission Zone is expanded to across most of capital

Drivers will have just one year to sell their diesel or older petrol cars before the Ultra Low Emission Zone is expanded across the capital.

Hundreds of motorists who drive into central London will have until October 2021 to ditch their old polluting cars in order to avoid a £12.50 daily fee.

It comes as the capital’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), which was introduced in 2019, is expanded to cover the streets inside the North and South Circular roads – an area 18 times greater than the original zone.

The move, which will come into force on October 25 next year, will see drivers whose petrol vehicles do not comply with the Euro 4 standards – usually cars sold before January 2006 – have to pay the charge of £12.50 in addition in to the congestion charge. 

Drivers have until October 2021 to ditch their old diesel or petrol cars before the Ultra Low Emission Zone is expanded across London

Diesel cars entering the zone will also have to pay the charge if their vehicles do not meet the Euro 6 standard, which typically applies to those purchased before September 2015.

Vans, minibuses, motor caravans, and some other vehicle types first registered before October 2002 may also have to be modified in order to avoid the fee.

According to the AA, up to 350,000 London motorists will be affected by the scheme’s expansion next year.

Among the car models which will fall foul of the ULEZ charges are some 2015 Ford Focus, Fiat Panda, Citroen and Vauxhall Astra models.

The new ULEZ zone will operate 24 hours a day for seven days of the week within the same area of central London as the Congestion Charge.  

In 2018, London Mayor Sadiq Khan confirmed the extension of the ULEZ after growing concerns about rising pollution levels in the capital.

The mayor made the announcement at the same time he launched a new study to measure the impact of air pollution reduction strategies on the health of children in London and Luton. 

Confirmation of the expanded ultra-low emission zone came after research showed the health damage from cars and vans across the UK costs £6billion a year to the NHS and society, with the bill in London £650million. 

The capitals Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) will be  expanded to cover the streets inside the North and South Circular roads 

Mayor Sadiq Khan confirmed that ULEZ will stretch to cover most of the capital in 2018

The new ULEZ zone will operate 24 hours a day for seven days of the week within the same area of central London as the Congestion Charge. Pictured: A ULEZ zone and congestion zone sign in London 

Officials said expanding the ULEZ and stricter standards for heavy vehicles across London would result in more than 100,000 Londoners no longer living in areas exceeding legal air quality limits in 2021 and all areas in the capital are expected to see reductions in pollution.

Will your recent buy be hit by ULEZ charges? 

The Alliance of British Drivers has published a list of cars which will fall foul of ULEZ charges:

  • 2015 Citroen C3 Edition 1.6 Bluehdi 100 Edition 5dr 90bhp
  • 2015 Citroen C4 1.6 e-HDi Airdream VTR+ Hatchback 5dr Diesel 115bhp
  • 2015 Ford Fiesta 1.6 TDCi ECOnetic Style 5dr 94bhp
  • 2015 Ford Focus 1.6 TDCi 115 Zetec 5dr 113bhp
  • 2015 Fiat Panda 1.2 MULTIJET POP 5d 75 BHP
  • 2015 Fiat 500 Lounge1.3 Multijet 3dr 95bhp
  • 2015 Nissan Juke 1.5 ACENTA DCi 5 DOOR 110 BHP
  • 2015 Renault Clio 1.5 dCi ECO Expression + 5dr 90bhp
  • 2015 Toyota Auris 1.4 D-4D Excel (s/s) 5dr 90bhp
  • 2015 Vauxhall Corsa 1.3CDTi Ecoflex Design 94BHP
  • 2015 Vauxhall Astra 2.0 CDTi Ecoflex Elite 163 bhp
  • 2015 Vauxhall Astra 1.6 CDTi 16V Ecoflex Design 5dr 108bhp 
  • 2015 VW Golf hatch 1.6tdi Bluemotion tech S 104bhp
  • 2015 VW Golf Bluemotion 1.6tdi estate 108bhp

Mr Khan previously said: ‘Tackling London’s lethal air and safeguarding the health of Londoners requires bold action.

‘Air pollution is a national health crisis and I refuse to stand back as thousands of Londoners breathe in air so filthy that it shortens our life expectancy, harms our lungs and worsens chronic illness.

‘I promised hard-hitting measures to tackle our shameful air pollution and today City Hall is confirming the next stage of our plans to expand the ultra-low emission zone up to the North and South Circular roads.’ 

Mr Khan has been pushing hard for London to spearhead new measures to reduce vehicle emissions in the capital since being sworn in as mayor in 2016.

This includes the introduction of the T-Charge in 2018, which will be superseded by ULEZ in 2019. 

Last month, a study by Environmental Defense Fund Europe found that harmful air pollution from diesel vehicles was 23 per cent higher outside London’s current ultra-low emissions zone (ULEZ).

The study, which gathered pollution data from 231 sites in London and tracked levels of toxic nitrogen oxides (NOx), found the five worst locations were all outside the ULEZ. 

NOx pollution is an umbrella term which includes nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which can lead to health issues like inflaming airways while aggravating existing heart and lung diseases. 

NOx pollution is a serious concern for health officials and is an umbrella term which includes nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which can lead to health issues like inflaming airways while aggravating existing heart and lung diseases.  

London has breached legal limits for NO2 since 2010 and last year it was revealed more than 2 million Londoners are living in areas exceeding legal air limits – including 400,000 children.  

As well as NOx, common pollutants from diesel include unburned hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and particulate matter – microscopic particles of matter.

Diesel vehicles pour out more ultra-fine particles than all other vehicles, which are the most toxic of the air pollution particles.


 The ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) was introduced in London in April 2019. Here are some of the key questions around the scheme: 

What is it?  The ULEZ is a way of charging vehicles which emit the most nitrogen oxide for entering parts of London.

When does it apply?  The daily charge runs from midnight to midnight every day.

Where is it happening?  The scheme is initially within the same area as the congestion charging zone, before being expanded to within the North and South Circular roads from October 2021.

What vehicles are included?  All vehicles are affected apart from black taxis.

How much does it cost to enter the zone with an older vehicle?  It costs £12.50 for most vehicle types, including cars, motorcycles and vans. Heavier vehicles such as lorries, buses and coaches are liable for a £100 charge.

How can I avoid the charge?  To be exempt from the Ulez charge, petrol cars, vans and minibuses must meet the Euro 4 emissions standard and diesels must meet Euro 6. That means the oldest cars that can be driven in central London without paying are roughly a four-year-old diesel model or a 13-year-old petrol model.

What happens if I don’t pay?  If you fail to pay the charge, car drivers face a £160 Penalty Charge Notice (reduced to £80 if paid within 14 days). Lorry drivers will be handed a much larger fine of £1,000 (reduced to £500 if paid within 14 days).

What if I don’t know my vehicle’s emissions standard?  Drivers can check whether their vehicle is liable for a charge by entering its registration on the Transport for London website.

Why was ULEZ introduced?  London Mayor Sadiq Khan says the scheme will improve the capital’s air quality, which he says is responsible for thousands of premature deaths and other serious conditions.

Has there been any opposition to the scheme?  Conservatives on the London Assembly claim Mr Khan’s decision to introduce the scheme earlier than planned could catch out some motorists – particularly those from the poorest households – who have not already upgraded their vehicle to a newer model. They also warn that expanding the zone to the whole of inner London will not effectively tackle pollution and will affect people and businesses in areas with low pollution.

What vehicles are covered by ULEZ?

It’s not just cars and vans that will be subject to extra charges in London.

These ULEZ non-compliant vehicles will also be impacted:  

– Motorcycles, mopeds, motorised tricycles, quadricycles

– 4X4 light utility vehicles and picksups

– Motorised horseboxes

– Ambulances and fire engines

– Motorcaravans

– Minibuses

– Lorries

– Buses and coaches

– Breakdown & recovery vehicles

– Snow ploughs and gritters

– Refuse collection vehicles and road sweepers

– Concrete mixers and tippers 


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