In April 2019, the Ultra-Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) was established in Central London, covering the same area as that of the London Congestion Charge. The purpose of such zoning was to decrease the number of polluting cars on the road and drastically reduce carbon emissions in the nation’s capital.
In this it was a huge success; with a demonstrable 20% reduction in carbon emissions in Central London over the four months since the project’s inception. ULEZ also saw a marked decrease in polluting vehicles on the road, down by 35% from 35,600 to 23,000.
Described as one of the most ambitious sustainability and anti-pollution policies in the world, the first iteration of the Ultra-Low Emissions Zone has been well received by the majority of Londoners who are seeking solutions to issues relating to air pollution, rising carbon emissions and congestion.
Since 2016, the Mayor of London has already taken innovative steps to combat pollution, carbon emissions, and congestion in the city, but toxic air caused by traffic still causes nearly 4,000 preventable deaths each year, with the majority of these deaths occurring in London’s outer boroughs, which the ULEZ does not yet cover. Additionally, the rate of improvement of the air quality in outer London has lagged behind that of the central London boroughs.
The capital will need to experience a significant shift away from the use of petrol and diesel vehicles in favour of walking and cycling, more extensive use of public transportation, and cleaner vehicles in order to reduce traffic and associated emissions by anywhere close to the amount necessary to address these challenges. Despite the fact that over half of Londoners do not own cars, many are disproportionately affected by the negative effects that polluting vehicles are having on the environment. The new ULEZ zone will encompass an area with almost 8.9 million inhabitants, compared to the existing one’s 3.8 million citizens.
It might be argued that smart road user charging will eventually be the most long-term and equitable answer to these problems. This would make it possible to eliminate all current road user fees, including the congestion charge and the ULEZ, and replace them with an easier, and more equitable system that charges drivers on a per-mile basis. This would make it possible to charge various prices based on the pollution levels of vehicles, the quantity of traffic in the region, and accessibility to public transportation. Whilst TFL have been tasked with exploring such a concept, they are still many years away from implementing such a plan. Expanding the Ultra-Low Emissions Zone to cover all of Greater London was thought to be an ideal and quick fix, though this plan faces much opposition from both a public and stakeholder perspective. But could it be the right solution?
Advantages Of An Expanded Ultra-Low Emissions Zone
Many believe that we only have a brief window of time left to cut carbon emissions in order to save the earth because of the ever present climate crisis. And in spite of the innovative policies in our nation’s capital and despite ground-breaking improvements science and technology have made in recent years, there is still far too much harmful air pollution causing thousands of fatalities annually, with the majority of these deaths occurring in the outer London boroughs.
Expansion of the ULEZ is specifically designed to remove the most polluting cars from the road, and preliminary studies have predicted that expanding it to cover all of Greater London would contribute to a 30 per cent decrease in road transport NOx emissions as a direct result This, in turn, would lead to between 135,000 and 150,000 tonnes less of CO2 emissions in outer London by reducing the number of polluting cars on London’s roads by around 20,000 to 40,000 a day.
Does My Vehicle Meet Emissions Requirements?
Four out of every five cars in the zone are currently compliant, although TfL estimates that there are still 138,000 non-compliant cars registered within the Greater London area.
Typically, petrol cars that meet the ULEZ standards are generally those first registered with the DVLA after 2005, although cars that meet the standards have been available since 2001. Diesel cars that meet the standards, on the other hand, are generally those first registered with the DVLA after September 2015.
It will become ever more important to find out if your car satisfies the safety and emissions requirements for driving in London and whether you have to pay a daily fee. Buses, minibuses, and coaches weighing more than 5 tonnes as well as lorries, vans, and specialty heavy vehicles exceeding 3.5 tonnes are exempt from the ULEZ fee. If they do not satisfy the LEZ emissions criteria, however, they will be required to pay the LEZ fee.
Since 2018, a significant awareness-raising campaign has been running to make sure that companies and drivers are prepared for the ULEZ and its growth, with more than 20 million people using Transport for London’s (TfL) online vehicle checker. Before the program’s commencement in October, more than a million notices were sent to the owners of non-compliant automobiles spotted inside the zone.
TfL issued warning notices to drivers of ULEZ non-compliant vehicles on their first offence within the first month since it was understood that people might genuinely make mistakes in the initial few weeks of a new system. Notices of penalty charges are now being issued.
To improve the quality of the air and lower emissions in city centres around the UK, clean air zones and emissions fees are being gradually implemented up and down the country. In fact, this year a number of British cities have announced intentions to enact their own clean air zones and low emission fees. But how will this affect those who will now have to pay to drive their cars in London and rely on said vehicles for commuting or business?
What About Zeelo? How Can We Assist?
Transport solutions by Zeelo are entirely carbon neutral at no extra cost to our clients. We like to brag that for every 100 riders Zeelo serves, 403 kg of carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere each day, equating to 91 tonnes annually – the equivalent of 600 trees being planted!
For businesses, schools, and local authorities, Zeelo is a smart bus provider that offers specialised, bespoke bus routes. Zeelo’s smart bus services will connect people to places of work that can’t afford a car, or are forced to abandon vehicles that no longer meet emissions criteria and don’t have access to affordable mass transportation. Zeelo’s services are also becoming a link to help companies attract more talent and improve the social mobility of all involved.
There is still time before the expansion takes place (because odds are, it really will), so why not preempt such a pivotal change by reexamining the way you choose to get around the capital. Get in touch with Zeelo today and we can share our vision for a cleaner, greener and exponentially more reliable commuter transport service.