Motorists warned not to be caught out by polluting vehicles charge

Motorists and businesses are being urged not to get caught out by a new charge for older, more polluting vehicles in London.

The ultra-low emission zone (Ulez) comes into force on Monday, meaning some motorists will have to pay a daily charge of £12.50 when they enter the centre of the capital.

It will initially be enforced in the same area as the congestion charge zone, before being extended to the whole of inner London within the North and South Circular roads from October 2021.

The charge will run from 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

It will be on top of the congestion charge, which is £11.50 between 7am and 6pm on weekdays.

All vehicle types apart from black taxis will be liable for the Ulez charge unless they meet certain emissions standards.

It is estimated that 100,000 cars, 35,000 vans and 3,000 lorries may be affected every day once the zone is expanded.

In December 2018 more than two-thirds (69%) of London-based AA members said they have “never heard of it” when asked about Ulez.

AA president Edmund King said: “With the concentration on Brexit some businesses may get caught out when the Ulez starts next week.

“The majority of drivers support measures to improve air quality however some who bought diesels in good faith and encouraged by government may be caught out.”

The Ulez was announced by former London mayor Boris Johnson, but the scheme was brought forward and its area expanded under his predecessor Sadiq Khan.

Mr Khan has claimed that tackling the capital’s “lethal air” requires bold action.

He believes the Ulez will help reduce nitrogen oxides and particulate matter emissions.

City Hall claimed that expanding Ulez in 2021 will result in more than 100,000 Londoners no longer living in areas exceeding legal air quality limits in 2021.

But Conservatives in the London Assembly warn that Mr Khan has “rushed” the introduction of the charge by bringing it in 17 months earlier than planned, meaning it will cause harm to the poorest residents and small businesses who were not expecting to be liable for the charge this early.

They also oppose the expansion of the zone, describing it as a “blunt approach” which will fail to fully tackle pollution hotspots while also penalising motorists in non-polluting areas.