London’s low emissions zone arriving in Enfield

Drivers warned to check their vehicles comply before Ulez is extended on Monday, reports James Cracknell

Close up of an Ultra Low Emission Zone sign
The Ultra Low Emission Zone (Ulez) has been extended to the North Circular (credit Transport for London)

The extension of London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (Ulez) becomes operational on Monday, bringing Enfield borough within the zone for the first time.

Ulez now covers all areas within the North Circular Road – but not the road itself – and it is estimated that 100,000 cars, 35,000 vans and 3,000 lorries could potentially be affected by the tighter standards.

Drivers are being urged to check whether their vehicles comply before entering the zone. Motorists whose vehicles do not meet the low emissions standards will have to shell out £12.50 per trip inside the zone. Failure to pay the charge could result in fines of up to £160. Close to ten million drivers have already used TfL’s vehicle checker to verify their vehicle meets pollution standards and more than eight out of ten vehicles driven in the zone already comply.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “London’s toxic air is a health crisis causing long-lasting harm to our children and contributing to thousands of premature deaths. The Ultra Low Emission Zone has already cut nitrogen dioxide pollution by nearly half in central London and the expansion of the zone on [Monday] 25th October means many more Londoners across the city will enjoy the benefits of cleaner, healthier air.

“We need bold action to clean up London’s air and while it’s encouraging that four out of five vehicles now meet the current standards and won’t have to pay the Ulez charge, I advise all drivers to use the TfL checker to make sure your vehicle is Ulez compliant. Our scrappage scheme will continue supporting motorists to ditch their polluting cars and make the switch to greener forms of transport as we drive towards a green recovery.”

Toxic air in London is described by Transport for London (TfL) as “a threat to life” and can lead to a number of serious health conditions. It contributes to thousands of deaths each year and is linked to heart disease and dementia as well as stunting the development of children’s lungs.

To prepare drivers and make them aware of the zone, which will be 18 times larger than the original zone covering central London, TfL has run a far-reaching communications campaign. More than a million letters have been sent to those seen driving in the area and more than 600,000 leaflets have been sent to residents living close to the boundary. Four million emails have been sent to people on TfL’s customer database, and there has been an extensive advertising campaign spanning radio, TV, posters, press, social media and online.

Drivers have been supported in making the transition with the mayor’s £61million scrappage scheme. To date more than 12,000 older polluting cars, vans, minibuses and HGVs have been taken off the road or retrofitted. TfL is also greening its own fleet with more than 500 zero-emission buses on the city’s streets with more than 4,000 iconic black cabs now using electric.

Alex Williams, TfL’s director of city planning, said: “The benefits of the larger Ulez won’t just be felt from day one of its operation. Compliance with the tough standards has more than doubled since the mayor announced the plans, with the result being Londoners breathing cleaner air over the last four years.

“We don’t want drivers to get caught out on the 25th October, so we are advising people to use our checker to see if their vehicle meets the standards. If they are liable for the charge we would ask them to consider using public transport, or to walk or cycle if possible, and if they need to drive, consider using a car club whose fleets are fully Ulez compliant, or switching to the cleanest vehicle.”

Of more than 1,600 respondents who took part in the online poll on the Ulez website, 64% drivers said they would be staying behind the wheel despite the new boundaries while 36% admitted they would consider using public transport instead.

Nicholas Lyes, head of roads policy at RAC, said: “While the majority will be unaffected by the expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone, around a fifth of vehicles don’t comply, so it’s vital drivers of cars, small vans and motorbikes use the TfL checker before 25th October or be prepared to pay a £12.50 daily charge.

“Drivers should also remember that the Ulez, including the new expanded zone, operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

Check your vehicle:
Visit tfl.gov.uk/modes/driving/check-your-vehicle