Builders could now be forced to pay more to drive into London. Dan Powell, editor of Honest John Vans, explains why.
Poor air quality is a big problem in the UK, with air pollution linked to tens of thousands of deaths every year. To combat this the Government is creating a new wave of clean air zones across the UK to reduce harmful vehicle emissions and make life better for people who live with heart, lung and breathing problems.
The Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) is the first major clean air initiative to be launched. And from this month, drivers of older, more polluting vans have to pay an extra £12.50 (on top of the congestion charge) to enter central London.
From 2020 Birmingham, Leeds and Southampton have been instructed to introduce similar clean air zones – this means urban pollution charging could soon become the norm in the UK.
Which vans are affected by the new rules?
Broadly speaking, the ULEZ will affect petrol vehicles that do not meet Euro4 standards and diesels that do not meet Euro6 emission limits. This means diesel vans that are older than four years will have to pay, while petrols older than 13 years will also be charged. There will be some exceptions, however, for Euro5 diesels with exceptionally low emissions. For newer vehicles, you should be able to see the Euro emission rating on the V5C (logbook). Alternatively you can check online at vans.honestjohn.co.uk to see if you’ll have to pay the ULEZ charge or not.
What areas will the ULEZ cover?
The ULEZ will operate 24 hours a day midnight to midnight, seven days a week, within the same area as the congestion charging Zone. In 2021 it’ll be expanded up to the North and South Circular.
How will I pay the fee, and what happens if I forget?
You can pay online, over the phone or via the TfL smartphone app. Drivers can also register for an auto pay service, but this has a £10 admin fee. If the van doesn’t meet the ULEZ standards, and the daily charge is not paid, a penalty charge of £160 will be issued to the registered keeper of the van. This will be reduced to £80 if paid within 14 days.
How will Transport for London know if I’ve paid or not?
Like the Congestion Charge, the ULEZ will be monitored with ANPR (automatic numberplate recognition) cameras. Each time you enter and leave the zone, it will be logged.
What about builders who live within the ULEZ?
Drivers who live within the zone will be exempt, but only for a limited period of time. Those living in the ULEZ will get a three-year ‘sunset period’ to change their van until October 2021. At the end of this timeframe residents will be liable for the full daily charge each time they use their van on the public road.
Will other towns and cities introduce ULEZ fees?
The government has instructed Birmingham, Leeds and Southampton to come up with clean air zones by 2020. And at least one of these areas (Birmingham) has outlined a £8 charge for some vans that enter the city from January.
Will your van be exempt from the ULEZ rules? Check online at: vans.honestjohn.co.uk