The Truth Behind The Ultra Low Emissions Zone

If you’re based in or around London, you’ve probably already heard that new plans have been unveiled to introduce an ‘Ultra Low Emissions Zone’ around central London. This zone will mirror the congestion charge zone and be monitored in the same way, and apply to all classes of vehicle. So if you drive an HGV into, around or through central London, listen up.


Why We Need An Ultra Low Emissions Zone

As you may or may not be aware, London has historically had a poor record when it comes to air quality. The high population and number of vehicles running in the capital every day make it a soup of smog and exhaust fumes, which isn’t good for the environment or the lungs of the inhabitants. Over the last few years, with a lot of hard work and strict enforcement of low emission zones, the quality of London’s air has improved dramatically. In fact, it now meets the legal limits for all but one air pollutant. Unfortunately, there are still high levels of nitrogen dioxide in London’s air, which is proven to have an impact on public health. London also has particularly high levels of particulate matter (PM) pollution but, currently, there is no ‘safe limit’ for this type of pollution.


One of the major drivers behind improving the air quality in and around London is the fact that every year, around 9,400 deaths in London are attributed to air quality related illnesses. Studies have shown that road transport contributes around half of the total emissions of nitrogen dioxide in Greater London, so the focus now is on bringing that level down, which means trying to cut down on the number of cars on the road, promoting walking, cycling and use of public transport as alternatives.


What Is An Ultra Low Emissions Zone

Unfortunately, there are some instances, like in the haulage industry, where driving simply cannot be helped. If you are trying to deliver 10,000 units of a certain product to a shop, you aren’t going to be able to do that on public transport. So now, we have the Ultra Low Emission Zone (or ULEZ), which will come into effect in 2019. This new regulation means that from 2019, all cars, motorcycles, vans and HGVs will have to meet new exhaust emissions standards when travelling in central London, or face paying a £10 per day charge. This new zone, emissions standard and charge does not replace the existing low emissions zone, rather it complements it, meaning that drivers of very old vehicles could find themselves paying 2 sets of emissions charges alongside the congestion charge. The ULEZ will be effective 24/7, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, so there is no way to simply delay your routes to get around it. This is the Mayor of London taking a firm stance on emissions, particularly from HGVs.


But how do you know if your vehicle meets these new standards? Well, luckily there have been some guidelines published on this by the Mayor of London:


Petrol vehicles that don’t meet Euro 4 standards and diesel vehicles that do not meet Euro 6 standards will have to pay a ULEZ daily fee (£12.50 for cars, vans and motorbikes; £100 for buses, coaches and HGVs) to drive in the zone, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.” If you’re unsure as to what standard your vehicle’s emissions will be, there is a general rule of thumb you can follow. If your HGV is petrol and was manufactured before 2006, it will probably fail these standards. Similarly, diesel HGVs made before 2004 will likely fail too.


Of course, all of this is designed to make motorists take a look at their vehicles and encourage them to make the switch to something more eco-friendly. This comes alongside announcements by many mainstream car dealerships that they will be starting to eliminate petrol and diesel vehicles from their manufacturing runs, replacing them with electric or hybrid vehicles instead. The same is true for HGVs – the first electric HGVs have already been road tested, so it won’t be long before you see them on the roads every day. For more information about the new emissions zone rules, get in touch with us today.