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  • Jimena Schoemann de Miguel

The Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ)

People argue that kids with asthma and respiratory problems who have trouble breathing in the polluted air will benefit from the ULEZ and that the measure encourages people to get an electric car which means there will be less noise on the streets. However, there is bad side to this new law: the problem is that people with more money can buy a new car and adapt to the ULEZ, but people with less money are at a disadvantage. Locals and commuters who cannot use buses and bicycles need new cars that cost a lot of money. Due to inflation, it is even harder to buy a new car, so they often resort to paying the 12.50 pounds which will continue to bring them further away from being able to afford a new car.

I have already stated a few opinions, but why has the government made these decisions in the first place? TFL states: “The aim of the ULEZ is to help improve air quality by reducing the number of vehicles in London that don't meet emissions standards. The ULEZ has already helped to reduce harmful nitrogen dioxide pollution by nearly half in Central London and a fifth in Inner London. Despite this progress, more needs to be done, as air pollution is not just a central London problem. In fact, the greatest number of deaths related to air pollution occur in Outer London areas. That's why from the 29th of August 2023, the ULEZ expanded across all London boroughs, to help give the five million Londoners in outer boroughs clearer air to breathe too”.

If your car does not fit the standards, you will have to pay 12.50 pounds per day. So what cars are allowed to drive the streets and highways of London? According to TFL, the standards are as follows: “Euro 3 for motorcycles, mopeds, motorised tricycles, and quadricycles (L category),

Euro 4 (NOx) for petrol cars, vans, minibuses and other specialist vehicles, Euro 6 (NOx and PM) for diesel cars, vans, minibuses, and other specialist vehicles”. (“Euro” is the name for a range of European emission standards.) In short: to be allowed to travel in the ULEZ without paying, your car must meet its Euro standards and have the correct amount of emissions.

But what cars need to pay most? The answer: diesel cars registered before September 2015, most diesel vans registered before September 2016, most petrol cars and vans registered before 2006, and pre-2014 buses and lorries.

On top of the previously mentioned 12.50-pound charge, people are being charged 15 pounds daily if they drive in the Congestion Charge zone during charging times (between 7:00 am and 6:00 pm Mondays through Fridays, and 12:00am till 6:00 pm Saturday through Sunday). Luckily, there will be no charge between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. The Congestion Charge zone includes Finsbury, Clerkenwell, City of London, Lambeth, Westminster, Mayfair, Marylebone, Farringdon, South Bank, Soho and Covent Garden.

In 2021, the Ultra Low Emission Zone was expanded to include the area within the North and South Circular roads in London, but in August of 2023 it was extended further and now covers the whole of the Greater London Borough and most of the M25. These areas generally charge 12.50 pounds, but lorries and buses must pay a substitute - a hefty fine of 100 pounds.

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