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700,000 car drivers in London face ULEZ fees when scheme expands

Paloma Kubiak
Written By:
Paloma Kubiak

Drivers of nearly 700,000 cars in Greater London face paying the daily £12.50 ULEZ charge when the scheme expands this summer, data reveals.

The Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) will expand across all London Boroughs from 29 August, as the Mayor of London and Transport for London look to tackle air pollution, fight climate change and reduce traffic.

It applies 24 hours of the day, every day except Christmas Day.

This means drivers of non-compliant vehicles entering the Greater London Authority boundary (not just within the North and South Circular) will need to pay a daily charge of £12.50.

And according to data obtained by the RAC, an estimated 691,559 licensed car drivers in Greater London could be liable to pay the charge.

This is because they drive petrol cars first registered prior to January 2006 or diesel cars registered prior to September 2015 – the key dates for meeting ULEZ standards.

When factoring in all non-compliant vehicles, not just cars, the RAC said this number rises to 851,065.

Further, when also including drivers from neighbouring counties such as Kent, Hertfordshire and Essex, this number is revealed to be 160,000 ULEZ fee-paying cars a day.

For those who don’t cough up, they can be hit with a fine of up to £180.

The Mayor of London has launched a £110m scrappage scheme offering eligible owners up to £2,000 towards buying a compliant vehicle.

‘Massive financial impact’

RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes, said: “Cleaning up London’s air should undoubtedly be a priority, but the sheer number of vehicles that don’t meet ULEZ emissions standards in Greater London suggests there will be a massive financial impact on motorists and businesses through having to fork out £12.50 every day they drive in the zone.

“We desperately need more co-ordination between the Mayor and the Government to help small businesses, tradespeople, NHS staff and carers who have no choice but to drive into the expanded ULEZ for work purposes from outside Greater London. Consideration should also be given to those who work at night when public transport is greatly reduced in the outer boroughs.”

Lyes added that amid the cost-of-living crisis, households may not be able to afford to change their cars.

He said: “Changing to a compliant vehicle at such short notice simply won’t be something many will be able to afford, especially during a cost-of-living crisis and at a time when second-hand car prices are so high.

“We need more creativity from London’s Mayor and his team to help people out as the current scrappage scheme is akin to using a plughole to drain an Olympic-sized swimming pool – it’s simply not big enough for the scale of the job.

“We believe he should consider introducing an additional one-year sunset period for certain key workers or a scheme where TfL partners with a leasing company to provide discounted, ULEZ-compliant vehicles to smaller businesses or traders, enabling them to avoid daily charges while still reducing roadside emissions.”

See the TfL’s vehicle checker to find out if you need to pay ULEZ or not.