How will classic cars be affected by London’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone extension?

The Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) in London is designed to keep the most polluting cars out of the big city with the aim of reducing air pollution.

And it appears to be working. Transport for London (TfL) says nitrous oxide emissions have been cut by 44 per cent since the zone’s introduction in 2017 with 12,000 tonnes of CO2 saved.

As a result, the ULEZ is expanding. On October 25, 2021, the zone’s boundaries will grow to include the area between the A406 North Circular and A205 South Circular. If your car doesn’t meet regulations, you’ll have to pay £12.50 for each day you enter the zone.

TfL believes that the zone’s expansion will see 300,000 fewer people developing from chronic diseases such as asthma and type-2 diabetes by 2050.

Congestion charge

Classic car insurer Hagerty has been investigating what this means for those who drive older vehicles, warning up to 60,000 could be affected by the new rules.

Those who own historic vehicles aged 40 years or older will not have to pay any charges, but anything younger than that falls under the scope of the regulations. For petrol vehicles, they must meet the Euro 4 emissions rules introduced in 2005, while diesels have to meet Euro 6 rules in place since 2015.

However, that means thousands of classic cars from the 80s and 90s will be forced to pay a charge upon entering the capital, which could prove prohibitive, even if they are not used as daily commuters. Driving such a car into London just once a week would cost £650 per year.

Hagerty is concerned this could have a negative impact on the capital’s car enthusiast scene. Darren Sullivan Vince used to run a classic car meet called Waterloo Classics from behind Waterloo station. He told the insurance firm: “I moved our start point for drives to Battersea Park but now I’ll probably end up starting events in Dulwich.

Congestion charge

“I would say that at least 30 to 40 per cent of our cars will be caught in the ULEZ zone now and I know some people have decided to change their fleets, getting rid of the cars that don’t comply.”

James Mills, Hagerty UK Editor, said “Many owners of cherished vehicles that travel insignificant distances each year will feel hard done by if they’re caught in the ULEZ expansion.

“People have emotional connections to cars and bikes, may have invested blood, sweat and tears – not to mention a significant sum of money – to maintain and preserve them for future generations yet they face a huge bill to drive the pride and joy just once a week. Or they face the wrench of having to sell the vehicle.”

Other cities planning to introduce low emissions zones include Birmingham, Leeds, Nottingham, Derby and Southampton.