Ultra Low Emission Zone

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The Ultra–Low Emissions Zone is a fee charged to the most polluting vehicles in Central London. Plans were laid out under Boris Johnson and introduced by Sadiq Khan in April 2019. It led to the number of the worst polluting vehicles dropping from 35,600 to 23,000 and a 20% reduction in emissions in Central London.[1][2] The zone will be expanded to cover the North and South Circular from October 2021.


Sign warning drivers that they are about to enter the Ultra Low Emission Zone and Congestion Charging Zone.

Plans for an Ultra–Low Emissions Zone were under consideration since 2014 under Mayor Boris Johnson.[3] In February 2017, Mayor Sadiq Khan announced plans to expand the ultra low emission zone (ULEZ) in April 2019 beyond Central London, one year ahead of schedule. Drivers do not pay both the ULEZ and the previous £10 T-charge, but they are still subject to the London Congestion Charge.[4][5] The money raised from the ULEZ will be invested in the transport network and improving air quality in London.[6]

Introduction and effect[edit]

The zone was introduced in April 2019 and led to a 20% reduction in emissions by July 2019.[7][2] The number of the worst polluting vehicles entering the zone each day dropped from 35,578, in March 2019, to 26,195 in April of the same year, after the charge was introduced.[8] The number further dropped to 23,054 in July 2019.[1] The proportion of vehicles which complied with the standards rose from 61% in March 2019 to 74% in September 2019.[9]


The Ultra–Low Emissions Zone has been described as one of the most radical anti-pollution policies in the world.[10] A poll in April 2019 by YouGov found that 72% of Londoners supported using emissions charging to tackle both air pollution and congestion.[11] However, the Federation of Small Businesses said that many small firms were "very worried about the future of their businesses" as a result of the "additional cost burden".[7]

Current charging scheme[edit]

The £12.50 charge applies 24 hours a day every day of the year, and is based on European emission standards:

  • Motorbikes that do not meet Euro 3 standards (pre-2007 vehicles)
  • Petrol cars and vans that do not meet Euro 4 standards (vehicles pre-2006)
  • Diesel cars and vans that do not meet Euro 6 standards (vehicles pre-2015)
  • Buses, coaches and lorries must meet or exceed the Euro VI standard or pay £100 a day

Future expansion[edit]

The zone will be extended to the North and South Circular from 2021 so that it would cover an area containing 3.8 million people.[12][13] Once the zone is expanded, an estimated 100,000 cars, 35,000 vans and 3,000 lorries will pay the charge daily.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Central London Ultra Low Emission Zone - Four month report" (PDF).
  2. ^ a b https://www.standard.co.uk/futurelondon/cleanair/high-pollution-levels-detected-by-40-of-londons-air-quality-sensor-networks-a4196811.html
  3. ^ Fiona Harvey. "Diesel drivers may face higher costs in pollution battle". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 July 2014.
  4. ^ Mason, Rowena (17 February 2017). "London to introduce £10 vehicle pollution charge, says Sadiq Khan". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 February 2017.
  5. ^ Kimiko de Reytas-Tamura (17 February 2017). "A Push for Diesel Leaves London Gasping Amid Record Pollution". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 February 2017.
  6. ^ "World's first 24 hour Ultra Low Emission Zone starts in London".
  7. ^ a b "ULEZ: New pollution charge begins in London".
  8. ^ "ULEZ cuts number of worst polluting cars in central London".
  9. ^ https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/ulez_six_month_evaluation_report_final_oct.pdf
  10. ^ Edwards, Tom. "ULEZ: The most radical plan you've never heard of". BBC News Website. BBC. Retrieved 26 March 2019.
  11. ^ "Londoners support charging 'dirty' drivers, says air pollution study".
  12. ^ "London Mayor confirms Ultra-Low Emission Zone will start in 2019". www.fleetnews.co.uk.
  13. ^ "ULEZ: The politics of London's air pollution".
  14. ^ "Ultra-low emission zone comes into force in central London".