Unloading van in London street
Unless your van is ULEZ compliant, from April 2019 it will cost you £12.50 to drive in London
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ON April 08, 2019, be prepared if you drive your van into London. Be prepared for the start of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ).

The ULEZ is separate to the Congestion Charge which continues in place. However, the ULEZ will replace the current T-charge. It is being introduced one year earlier than originally announced.

Why is London introducing a ULEZ?

London is one of many cities introducing low or ultra-low emission zones. This is due to local pollution issues which affect the health of all Londoners created by transportation. These pollutants include nitrogen oxides (NOx) which contribute to illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and PMs (particulate matter)

Transport for London (TfL) says:

“These pollutants make chronic illnesses worse, shorten life expectancy and can damage lung development.”

The introduction of the ULEZ will help improve London’s air quality says TfL.

What does the ULEZ charge mean to you?

It means a charge of £12.50 per day that operates 24/7 if your van doesn’t meet the standards.  

The standards are these: diesel vans must be Euro 6 emissions; petrol vans must be Euro 4.

If your van does not comply with these standards, then you will be charged the £12.50. Failure to pay the ULEZ charge will result in a penalty notice of £160 which will be reduced to £80 if paid within 14 days.

Euro 6 diesel vans have only been mandatory since September 2016; petrol engined vans registered from January 2006 should meet the Euro 4 standard. According to Manheim, the remarketing firm, less than 20% of the 4.3m vans on the road are Euro 6 compliant. Which means you could be facing an issue if your trade or business regularly takes you into London.

“The issue as I see it is that when the original introduction of ULEZ was announced it was going to be at the end of 2020. By then most non-Euro 6 vans should have washed through the system on three or four year cycles,” explained Martin Wilson, Managing Director of leasing firm Balgores Car & Van Leasing, a member of the Leasing Broker Federation.

“But now the introduction date has been brought forward it’s left many of our customers with four year leases potentially facing the charge until the end of 2020.

“So we’re having meetings with our customers to see how we can help them through this period. One company we look after was facing the possibility of charges totalling in excess of £58,000 following a review of the vans on their fleet. Following that meeting they changed 19 of their vans early. We’re getting reasonable early termination settlement figures. For this particular delivery firm, it was certainly worth it.”

ULEZ extension is coming in 2021

However, the ULEZ doesn’t stop there. From October 25,  2021, the area covered by the ULEZ boundary will be extended to create a larger zone with boundaries extending to the North and South Circular Roads.

If you are driving any petrol or diesel vehicle within this enlarged area you will also need to meet new tighter emissions standards or pay a daily charge.

Any tips for dealing with ULEZ?

Martin Wilson says there are no magic tips to help with the ULEZ.

“The best advice I can offer is don’t bury your head in the sand. It’s coming, speak to a company with fleet management experience, such as Balgores Leasing who can offer impartial advice. The biggest impact will be on smaller companies using older second hand vans. By the time the extension comes, this will affect them particularly badly.”

For small businesses with fewer than 10 employees, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has recently announced a £23m van scrappage scheme.  It is designed to help trades upgrade to ULEZ compliant vans. Khan has promised that details about qualification and application details are currently being discussed and will be announced early in 2019.

More information on the ULEZ

  • If you want to understand more about the forthcoming ULEZ, and how it may affect you, go to the TfL site on the ULEZ
  • Remember, ULEZ starts on April 08, 2019.
  • ULEZ extensions commences  October 25, 2021
  • The ULEZ operates 24/7 365 days a year




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