The London Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) for motorcycles, cars and vans will be expanded up to the North and South Circular roads from 25 October 2021.
The same rules will apply as with the central London ULEZ, which comes into force on 8 April 2019.
Buses, lorries and coaches will face an expanded scheme from 26 October 2020.
What’s the penalty?
Non-compliant vehicles will have to pay a daily ULEZ charge of £12.50, 24 hours per day, 365 days per year.
What vans are affected?
Diesel vans will need to meet the Euro 6 emissions standard. Loosely speaking, this means that vans made from 2015 onwards should be compliant, although there are some exceptions.
Petrol vans will need to meet Euro 4 standards from 2021, According to the official guidance, this means that petrol vehicles made from 2006 onwards should be compliant.
There are exceptions for the owners of disabled tax class vehicles and adapted private hire vehicles, who will have until 2025 to replace their vehicles. Charities will be given until 2023 to replace their minibuses.
Why is this happening?
This is all about public health. But it could also save the taxpayer money in the long run. Recent research by the University of Oxford has found that the health damage from cars and vans costs the NHS £6bn each year. Health damage caused by London vehicles costs £650m a year.
The reality is that many people living and working inside the North/South Circular roads would probably still have been using pre-Euro 6 vans in 2021. It is estimated that 100,000 cars, 35,000 vans and 3,000 lorries might be affected by the expanded zone and tighter standards every day.
These changes are intended to reduce the number of older vehicles on the road and improve London’s air quality.
According to the London Mayor’s office, the ULEZ scheme should result in emissions reductions across London and will mean that more than 100,000 residents no longer live in areas with illegal levels of air pollution.
By 2021, the number of schools in areas with illegal levels of air pollution should be reduced by two thirds.
Help, my van won’t be compliant!
If you live and work inside the North/South Circular roads, then your best option will be to replace your van with a newer, compliant model by 2021. Van owners who are unable to afford this will face an extra cost of £12.50 per day. If incurred daily, this is likely to be unaffordable for many.
If you use a non-compliant van but only visit London occasionally, you may find it more affordable to pay the charge or to hire a compliant van from a local rental company for your trips into London.
Hiring a van normally means that you’re guaranteed a modern vehicle that meets the latest emissions standards. An increasing number of hire companies are also offering electric vehicles, which might be worth considering for operations in the capital.
Unfortunately these changes will come at a short-term cost. But hopefully the longer-term benefits to public health — especially for children and older people — will make it worthwhile.