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ULEZ - What's it all about

Car Owner Reviewer - Lovecarreviews
June 15, 2023, 9:48 p.m.


Once upon a time, driving into the centre of London, and other major cities, was free of charge. You could cruise up and down and all through the capital all day long, driving along Mayfair to find somewhere for dinner, or parking up at the back of Oxford Street to do a spot of shopping.

We the bad news for some at least, is that those days are well and truly over. 

Have you heard about the ULEZ? It's the Ultra Low Emission Zone that's been causing a stir in London. Basically, it's billed as a way for the government to reduce air pollution in major cities, by charging drivers of older, more polluting vehicles to enter certain parts of the city. It's a good idea in theory, and technically should be a positive move to ensure we breath cleaner, fresher air... but some people are not too happy about it.

The ULEZ is currently in place in central London in the United Kingdom, and it expanded to cover the entire area within the North and South Circular roads from October 2021. This means that if you're driving an older car that doesn't meet the emissions standards, you'll have to pay a daily charge to drive in these areas. And its not exactly cheap either. At the time of writing this article, we are talking about £12.50 per day. Bear in mind that, this is on top of something called the 'Congestion Charge', which is a whopping £15.00 to travel into a smaller central London during the day. So that's an eyewatering £27.50 for the privilege of driving into our great capital for any reason. 

Sure, there are various concessions here and there, but generally speaking, the majority of drivers are hit by this charge. There are some oddities to the system.. Things that juts make you go hmmmmm. For example, the last time I checked, the Lamborghini LP640 qualified as exempt, but those high polluting and monstrous 1.0 litre A1 diesels, are well within the charge zone. It's a massive pain for those who rely on their cars to get around, but it's billed as a necessary step to improve air quality. 

So what are the key bits of information that you need to know about this ever expanding scheme: 

  1. What are the minimum values for cars: Petrol cars must be Euro 4 or over (generally newer than 2005), and diesel cars euro 6 or over (generally newer than 2015). At the time of writing, there is no charge for electric cars, as they emit no emissions. 
  2. When and where does it operate: The Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year (except Christmas Day) to help clean up London's air.
  3. How much does it cost per day: £12.50 per day, with a penalty charge of £180 if not paid on time. Yes, you heard that right
  4. What are your alternative options: There is a scrappage scheme currently running to offer people some cash incentive to ditch their old polluting monsters, and trade up to something leaner and greener. If you check out the Transport for London website, they also suggest taking alternative transport, such as public transport, cycling and walking. I will let you decide on the feasibility of that one!! 

 In summary, and in principle, any actions that help reduce emissions, should be a good and positive thing for everyone, right? right? Absolutely! But people who have cars that don't qualify and can't folk out the £12.50 a day for the privilege still need to drive and do what they need to do. They don't just fall off a cliff. But where do they go and how do they now reach their destinations? Of course they have to take one of the alternative transport options OR, more likely drive around the zone, and straight through other areas that then become more polluted in the process. Are we really solving a problem with this charge, or are we simply moving it out of the areas where those setting the policies tend to congregate? 

There have been many protests against the charge as it has expanded, and people have even taken to removing the cameras in certain areas, obviously not in a legal and regulated way. But I think, between the ever rising costs of everything, inflation, and pot holes, people seem to have just had enough!

Lets see where this goes in the future, and if road charging really is the way forwards. 

For more information, check out:  


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