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Auto Trader Trucks guide to ULEZ

Londoners knew it was on the cards for a long time – then last year it arrived early. Now, the world’s first ULEZ, or Ultra-Low Emission Zone, marks its first birthday in April 2020. The scheme, which is designed to reduce carbon emissions and air pollution levels in the UK capital has affected both personal and commercial transport across the city of London. Here’s what you need to know...

The ULEZ was first announced by then-Mayor of London and current Primer Minister Boris Johnson in 2014. The initial plan was to implement an Ultra-Low Emission Zone by September 2020, although current incumbent Mayor Sadiq Khan decided to bring the launch forward to April 2019, on the basis that the scheme could reduce London’s transport emissions by 20 percent within one year, while also lifting over 100,000 London residents out of harmful levels of Nitrous Oxide pollution.
The ULEZ currently affects between 40,000 to 60,000 vehicles in the capital every single day – and many of these are commercial vehicles, such as trucks transporting goods throughout the hustle and bustle of the busiest and most vibrant city in the UK.
Understanding ULEZ charges
Under ULEZ, any domestic diesel vehicle registered prior to 2015 does not meet Euro 6 standards. Petrol-powered cars and vans registered before 2006 do not meet Euro 4 standards either. These vehicles are therefore subject to a charge of £12.50 for every day that they enter the ULEZ. Any motorbike or moped registered prior to 2007 is also subject to the £12.50 daily charge, as these fail to meet Euro 3 standards.
However, haulage companies in the capital which operate trucks which fail to meet Euro 6 standards could find themselves at an even more monumental loss. Commercial vehicles such as buses, coaches, lorries and other delivery trucks are required to meet Euro 6 standards or else fork out £100 per day. Failure for haulage companies to pay the £100 levy on their trucks are met by even heftier fixed Penalty Charge Notices of £160. These PCN’s can be reduced to £80, provided they are paid within 14 days of receipt.
What is the Euro 6 standard?
Euro standards were first introduced in 1992 to help combat increasing levels of pollution throughout the eurozone. These standards have gradually become stricter for both petrol and diesel trucks, and take into account the level of nitrogen oxide, hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and particulate matter expelled by engines. The laws apply to all vehicles sold in the EU and EEA states. Although the UK is currently in the process of leaving the EU, it is unlikely that the current Euro 6 standard for trucks will be disentangled from London’s ULEZ laws.
How can I check if my truck is ULEZ-compliant?
It is possible to check if a truck (or any vehicle for that matter) is compliant with current ULEZ laws by using Transport for London’s online ULEZ checker tool. Some drivers may qualify for a temporary discount from the ULEZ charge, although commercial haulage firms are unlikely to benefit from this.
The money raised from ULEZ charges is ring-fenced by Transport for London to fund eco-friendly low carbon upgrades to the city’s tube, bus, rail and bicycle networks.
Where is the Ultra-Low Emission Zone in London?
The ULEZ covers the majority of Central London, including the Westminster and City. It is operational 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days of the year. By October 2021, it is expected to be expanded to cover the majority of Greater London, which accounts for the entire inner-city area between the North Circular and South Circular roads.
Truck drivers who are uncertain as to whether an address they are intending to deliver to falls within the ULEZ can use Transport for London’s online ULEZ: When & Where tool.
ULEZ: the ramifications for haulage businesses in London
Some 60% of vehicles travelling through the charging district were already compliant by the time the ULEZ laws were enacted, suggesting that the majority of London-based business fleets were unlikely to be troubled by the changes.
However, one year on, many SMEs have argued that the current ULEZ charges have affected their annual turnover to the point where they are struggling to viably operate within Central London. A spokesperson for the Federation of Small Businesses went so far as to say that a lot of smaller haulage firms in the capital were “very worried” about the future of their livelihoods on account of the burden of cost bestowed on them by the ULEZ scheme. While the impact on business has been felt by many, it seems one thing is for certain: ULEZ is here to stay, and is likely to expand in future – and the only way for businesses to avoid costly charges is to invest in more eco-friendly fleets.
ULEZ, LEZ and the Congestion Charge Zone during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic
On 23rd March Transport for London (TfL) announced that all road user charging schemes in the capital will be temporarily suspended, until further notice.
Previously every truck which entered into the Congestion Charge zone between 7 am and 6 pm would be required to pay £11.50 every day. If your truck needed to go into the ULEZ zone and didn’t meet the standards, you would also be required to pay another £100 per day. This means that businesses with non-Euro 6 compliant trucks, who are required to drive in both zones would be paying up to £111.50 per truck, per day. As these are temporarily suspended, the cost is now £0 per day until further notice. For more details please see our article here.

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