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08.04.2019

London launches Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ)

Photo: “London Buses” © Dr. Patrick Patridge

London has been enforcing vehicle pollution restrictions since Monday, 9th April 2019 as the UK capital attempts to clean up toxic air blamed for thousands of premature deaths annually. The Ultra Low Emission Zone, or ULEZ, will impose charges to drive into central London in all but the cleanest cars, coaches and vans.

The move is expected to reduce road transport emissions by around 45 %. The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, unveiled research showing that almost 1,000 people a year were hospitalized with asthma caused by air pollution.

The ULEZ charge will be levied inside London’s Congestion Charge Zone around the clock, and motorists driving polluting vehicles during daytime will have to pay both charges. It will apply to drivers of diesel vehicles whose engines are not certified to the latest Euro 6 standard, mandated from 2015, as well as most petrol vehicles more than 14 years old. Non-compliant buses and coaches will have to pay £100. The charge will be enforced using number-plate recognition and the DVLA database, which includes every vehicle’s emission standards.

London City Hall said the scheme would improve air quality throughout the city by limiting journeys by polluting vehicles and encouraging drivers to switch to cleaner modes of transport. In October 2021, the ULEZ is due to be extended to all areas inside the North and South Circular roads. That enlargement will bring around 640,000 vehicles into the zone, around 135,000 of which will be liable for the charge. Other cities including Birmingham and Leeds have said they will introduce clean air zones in 2020, and Manchester plans to follow suit.

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