The ultra-low emissions zone (ULEZ) came into effect in central London on April 8 2019 in a move to clean up the city’s air. It will force drivers of older, more polluting cars to pay more to drive into London .
Air pollution in London is at crisis levels with thousands of people in the city dying prematurely each year. In the most heavily polluted parts of the city it is increasing people’s risk of heart disease and asthma.
Some studies have highlighted the staggering levels of pollution outside schools, nurseries, doctors’ surgeries and hospitals.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan hopes the introduction of the low emission zone will reduce the dangerous levels of nitrogen oxide (NOx) and particulate matter levels in the air.
The operation of ULEZ is of particular importance to Lewisham which has some of the capital’s busiest roads.
Nine year old Ella Kissi-Debrah’s death was linked to unlawful levels of air pollution after she died in February 2013, after three years of seizures and 27 visits to hospital for asthma attacks.
She lived just 25 metres from the South Circular road in Lewisham, one of the capital’s busiest roads.
In January, her family were given permission by the Attorney General to apply for a fresh inquest.
If the family’s request is granted, Ella may become the first person in the UK for whom air pollution is listed as the cause of death.
The ULEZ is being rolled out in three phases: the first of these came into effect on April 8, 2019 in central London – where the congestion charge is currently in effect.
On Oct 26 2020, a London-wide low emission zone will be brought into effect for larger vehicles like lorries.
The final phase will extend the ULEZ for all vehicles to inner London boroughs up to the north and south circular roads on October 25, 2021.
Drivers of cars, vans and motorcycles that do not meet new emissions standards will have to pay £12.50 a day, in addition to the congestion charge.
Failure to pay could result in penalty fines of £160 (reduced to £80 if you pay within 14 days).
To be exempt from the charges, cars will have to meet Euro 4 standards for petrol cars; motorbikes Euro 3 and diesel cars Euro 6.
If you are unsure about whether your car will be exempt from the charges, you can enter your vehicle registration number on the Transport for London website to find out if you need to pay the ULEZ charge.