The ULEZ (Ultra Low Emissions Zone) has been a concern of most Londoners for several years and we are now starting to see the full effects of it in practice.
ULEZ was first announced by the Mayor of London 2015 as an initiative to clean up London’s air. Air pollution is a major issue for Londoners, with as many as 9,400 premature deaths being attributed to poor air quality at a cost of between £1.4 and £3.7 billion a year to the health service. The ULEZ zone is an area of London where road users are faced with an emissions-based charge if their vehicle is non-compliant with Euro emissions standards.
While initially launched in 2019 for Central London as of the 29th of August 2023, the ULEZ zone has now expanded to cover all London Boroughs in a further effort to deal with London’s pollution problem.
What standards does my vehicle need to meet and what will I need to pay if not?
ULEZ is regarded as the world’s toughest vehicle emissions standard, with the initiative designed to reduce the amount of high-polluting vehicles from entering London and exacerbating the already worrying air pollution problem.
All vehicles entering London must meet or exceed limits set out as follows:
- Euro 4 (NOx) for petrol cars, vans, minibuses and other specialist vehicles
- Euro 6 (NOx and PM) for diesel cars, vans, minibuses and other specialist vehicles
The above emissions standards mean that for your petrol or diesel vehicle to be ULEZ-compliant, it must produce no more than 80mg of NOx (Nitrogen Oxides) per km travelled.
Any vehicles that don’t meet the above standards, will be required to pay a daily charge of £12.50.
This has led to more motorists seeking out more emissions-friendly vehicles, should they want to avoid costly ULEZ emissions charges.
Why is there opposition to its expansion and what are the proposed benefits?
There’s been some opposition since its roll-out, but these objections have risen once again due to its expansion across Greater London.
One key frustration is that motorists who drive in Central areas at peak times may also be liable to pay other fees such as congestion charges if their vehicles don’t meet the same euro emissions standards as set out by ULEZ. Those opposed to ULEZ argue that due to the current cost of living, this is the wrong approach at the wrong time.
However, recent studies have shown that ULEZ is already having an impact on reducing emissions, even in its early stages. A study published in Journal of Environmental Health in July 2022 found significant reductions in nitrogen dioxide levels at 16 sites in London within the first 90 days of it being in place, while another study found that after its first year being in place, there was a 12% reduction in nitrogen dioxide concentrations across the ULEZ, compared to the previous year.
Which areas are selling the most old cars to prepare for ULEZ?
In order to meet these strict requirements, many motorists will need to change to a more emissions-friendly vehicle should they want to avoid ULEZ charges and reduce their impact on air pollution in and around London.
But which areas are drivers selling the most non-compliant cars?
To find out, we used Auto Trader to find the areas with the highest number of non-compliant vehicles for sale in proportion to the total number of vehicles for sale.
We found that Barnet is selling the most non-compliant cars, with 49% of cars being sold in the area non-ULEZ compliant. Motorists in Kingston upon Thames also run the risk of extensive ULEZ charges with 41% of cars being sold are non-compliant with ULEZ restrictions.
The London Boroughs Shifting The Most Older Cars
|Total number of cars for sale (petrol & diesel)
|Total number of non-compliant petrol and diesel cars listed for sale
|% of cars that are non-ULEZ compliant
|Kingston upon Thames
|Richmond Upon Thames
Despite there being 838 petrol and diesel cars listed for sale in Havering, one in 36% of cars being sold in the area are non-ULEZ compliant, followed closely behind by Richmond Upon Thames rounding out the top ten list of London boroughs getting rid of their older cars in wake of the ULEZ expansion
The Areas Outside Of London Getting Rid Of Their Old Cars
For the commuter towns and surrounding areas, many motorists are at risk of getting caught out by ULEZ charges if their vehicles are non-compliant with standards.
Reading is the area outside of London shifting the most older, non-compliant cars with 53% of cars being sold in the area are non-ULEZ compliant, meaning motorists are liable for the daily charge of £12.50 to use their car in London.
|Total no. of cars for sale (petrol & diesel)
|Total no. of non-compliant petrol & diesel cars listed for sale
|% of cars that are non-ULEZ compliant
Guildford also featured in the top ten of areas where drivers are getting rid of their old motors with 48% of cars sold ar non-compliant with emissions standards. Eastbourne and Portsmouth also featured in the top ten list, as motorists in commuter towns are keen to avoid possible ULEZ charges on their morning commute.
Will ULEZ go nationwide?
Air pollution is a major issue for the entirety of the UK, not just London.
The government website describes air pollution as the largest environmental risk to public health, with the annual mortality of human-made air pollution in the UK estimated to be between 28,000 and 36,000 deaths every year.
While ULEZ only exists in London, there are already several other areas in the UK with similar initiatives. Birmingham’s Clean Air Zone runs a similar model to the ULEZ with pre-Euro 4 petrol cars and pre-Euro 6 diesels charged £8 to drive in the zone. Bristol also operates an identical CAZ with non-compliant vehicles charged £9 per day.
Some cities in Scotland are also introducing similar measures, although despite Glasgow being the first UK city to introduce a low emissions zone, it operates differently with pre-Euro 4 petrol cars and pre-Euro 6 diesels banned from entering the zone completely. This means that motorists don’t pay, but instead will be fined £60 for each breach up to a cap of £480.
The importance of vehicles emissions testing
Most motorists will have little idea what emissions their vehicle produces but with the expansion of ULEZ it’s important this information is communicated to car owners.
Vehicle emissions testing is crucial for car owners to avoid hefty charges and possible penalty fines under the new ULEZ expansion and this process can be streamlined by manufacturers through portable printing and analysis.
Able Systems are the go-to solutions for small printer applications and our test and measure portable printers play a big role in vehicle emissions testing.
Able Systems used Auto Trader to identify which areas within a 50-mile radius of the zone (to cover all commuter locations) have the most and least compliant vehicles for sale. We compared the total number of petrol and diesel vehicles for sale with the number of non-ULEZ-compliant vehicles for sale in each area.
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