700,000 London drivers may face daily £12.50 charge when ULEZ expands, says RAC

Sign indicating Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) on a street in London, UK.

After the expansion of the Ultra-Low emission Zone (ULEZ) happens in August around 700,000 car drivers in Greater London could be liable to pay £12.50.

This is the conclusion the RAC has drawn from a Freedom of Information (FOI) request made to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) ahead of the zone’s expansion this summer.

According to DVLA data as of February 22, 2023, a total of 691,559 licenced vehicles in Greater London were either petrol vehicles first registered before January 2006 or diesel vehicles first registered before September 2015, which are the crucial dates for meeting to ULEZ criteria.

And the figure rises to 851,065 when counting all non-compliant vehicles, rather than solely cars.

However, because of drivers entering London from neighbouring countries such as Kent, Hertfordshire and Essex the RAC claims the number of drivers affected is likely to be much higher. Transport for London (TfL) estimates that around 160,000 non-compliant cars currently drive in the area that will become part of the zone every day.

From August 29, 2023, the zone is set to expand across all London boroughs meaning that any petrol car that fails to meet the Euro 4 emissions legislation or any diesel that fails to meet the Euro 6 standards will be charged £12.50 a day to drive in the zone.

There will be a fine of £160 for drivers who fail to pay the fee.

The zone is necessary according to TfL because air pollution “contributes to the premature death of thousands of Londoners every year”, claiming that traffic is one of the key contributors to air pollution in the capital.

However, Nicholas Lyes, head of roads policy at the RAC, said the ULEZ expansion would have a huge impact on businesses and workers, and there should be some way of softening the blow.

“Cleaning up London’s air should undoubtedly be a priority, but the sheer number of vehicles that don’t meet ULEZ emissions standards in Greater London suggests there will be a massive financial impact on motorists and businesses through having to fork out £12.50 every day they drive in the zone,” said Lyes.

“We desperately need more co-ordination between the mayor and the government to help small businesses, tradespeople, NHS staff and carers who have no choice but to drive into the expanded ULEZ for work purposes from outside Greater London.

“Consideration should also be given to those who work at night when public transport is greatly reduced in the outer boroughs.”

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