The world’s toughest vehicle emissions standard became active on 8 April in central London as Mayor Sadiq Khan launched an Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) to help reduce toxic air pollution and protect public health.

This will operate in the same area as the current Congestion Charge zone and will apply 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. It replaces the T-Charge and operates alongside the Congestion Charge.

Professor Jonathan Grigg of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), said: Approximately 50% of air pollution comes from road transport and 45% comes from diesel, so the introduction of London’s ULEZ is extremely welcome.”

There are two ULEZ charge levels: £12.50 a day for cars, vans and motorbikes; and £100 a day for lorries, buses and coaches.

While supporting the need to improve air quality, the Road Haulage Association (RHA) has spoken out against the scheme, expressing concerns that the current approach fails to deal with the issue appropriately and harms business in the capital.

It points out that 131 million tonnes each year (some 430,000 tonnes per working day) are carried on London’s roads.

Describing the current approach as simplistic anti-motorist, RHA Chief Executive Richard Burnett said: “London’s road network needs to be managed better. We need to focus on dealing with the massive impact of congestion on local NOx emissions. The haulage sector has done its bit with NOx from HGVs halving over recent years.”

He stressed that the prospect of having to pay an extra £100 per day will mean financial ruin for many operators, a point echoed by the Freight Transport Association (FTA) with its Head of Urban Policy arguing that businesses need more support to cope with the costs.

“The scheme is not a transformative measure, as marketed by Sadiq Khan,” Natalie Chapman went on. “It simply brings forward the fleet replacement cycle at huge cost to many small businesses and operators of specialist vehicles.”

Based on historical fleet turnover patterns, she argued, more than half of the UK’s truck fleet will be Euro 6 by 2021. Within just a few years, therefore, the ULEZ will be redundant as the entire fleet will be Euro 6.

Last reviewed 11 April 2019