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BUSINESS motorists operating in London, or driving to London to meet clients, should be aware of a significant new charge to drive in the capital.

On April 08, 2019, London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) begins.

The ULEZ is separate to the Congestion Charge which will continue. However, the ULEZ will replace the current T-charge. It is being introduced one year earlier than originally planned.

Why does London need a ULEZ?

London is one of many cities introducing low or ultra low emission zones in a bid to help improve air quality. Transport has been fingered as a significant pollutant. These include nitrogen oxides (NOx) which contribute to illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and PMs (particulate matter).

Transport for London (TfL) says:

“These pollutants make chronic illnesses worse, shorten life expectancy and can damage lung development.”

TfL says that the introduction of the ULEZ will help improve the quality of London’s air.

What does the ULEZ charge mean to business motorists?

It means a charge of £12.50 per day that operates 24/7 if your car doesn’t meet the standards.  

The standards are these: petrol cars must be Euro 4 emission standard; diesel cars must be Euro 6 emission standard.

If your car does not comply with these standards, then you will be charged the £12.50. Failure to pay the ULEZ charge will result in a penalty notice of £160 which will be reduced to £80 if paid within 14 days.

Euro 4 petrol cars have been around since 2005, while Euro 6 diesels are generally those cars registered after 2015.

Martin Wilson, Managing Director of leasing firm Balgores Car & Van Leasing and a member of the Leasing Broker Federation commented:

“There are two issues which business motorists need to consider. The first if they use an old car or classic car for their business driving – these vehicles will not be compliant.

“The second is that, when the original introduction of ULEZ was announced it was going to be at the end of 2020. By then most non-Euro 6 diesel cars should have washed through the system on four year cycles.

“But now the introduction date has been brought forward there’s the potential for drivers on a four-year cycle still to be driving a non-compliant diesel once the ULEZ begins. TfL has a checker if you have any doubts.”

ULEZ extension is coming in 2021

However, the ULEZ doesn’t stop there.

From October 25,  2021, the area covered by the ULEZ boundary will be extended to create a larger zone with a circumference extending to the North and South Circular Roads. And this will have a more significant effect on business motorists in the London area.

If you are driving any petrol or diesel vehicle within this enlarged area you will also need to meet new tighter emissions standards or pay a daily charge.

Any tips for dealing with ULEZ?

Martin Wilson says there are no magic tips to help with the ULEZ.

“The best advice I can offer is don’t bury your head in the sand. It’s coming, speak to a company with fleet management experience, such as Balgores Leasing who can offer impartial advice.  

“The biggest impact will be on smaller companies using older second hand cars, and particularly those who have decided to take the cash and save money by taking a cheaper second hand car.

One thing is for sure: if your business motoring regularly takes in London, then you will be facing additional costs if your car is non-ULEZ compliant. Is it worth taking the cost – or moving to a ULEZ compliant car?

More information on the ULEZ

  • If you want to understand more about the forthcoming ULEZ, and how it may affect you, go to the TfL site on the ULEZ
  • Remember, ULEZ starts on April 08, 2019.
  • ULEZ extensions commences  October 25, 2021
  • The ULEZ operates 24/7 365 days a year

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