The ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) will come into force on 8 April 2019 and replace the current Toxicity charge T-Charge.
Initially it will only cover the capital’s existing Congestion Charge zone. Then, from 25 October 2021, it will be expanded to include roads as far north as Palmers Green, east to Barking, west to Ealing and south to Forest Hill.
Diesel cars that don’t meet Euro 6 standards and petrols that don’t comply with Euro 4 will be penalized with a daily levy of £12.50 for driving within the zone. That means it will penalize most diesel cars first registered before September 2015 and petrols first registered before January 2006.
The ULEZ will operate 24-hours a day, 365 days a year, and will be in addition to the existing Congestion Charge, which means older car owners will have to pay to drive in the zone.
A public consultation was carried out by Transport for London (TfL) prior to the confirmation of the zone’s expansion – 56% of respondents were in favour of the extension of the zone.
Figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) suggest that more than 780,000 diesels and 858,000 petrol cars will be affected - substantially more than the 321,000 diesels and 255,000 petrols that Transport for London believes will be affected.
On the flip side, the expansion will result in more than 100,000 Londoners no longer living in areas that exceed air quality limits – an 80% increase on the current situation.
London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, is calling for a diesel scrappage scheme to help owners of cars that will be penalized by the scheme. He said: “We’re doing everything we can to tackle the issue and are starting to see improvements in air quality with the wide-ranging action we’ve already taken on tackling the most polluting cars and cleaning up our bus and taxi fleet. “An expanded ULEZ will really help to transform the air that millions of Londoners breathe.
“Some motorists will need help switching to greener transport options, which is why City Hall is urging ministers to deliver a diesel scrappage scheme to get the dirtiest cars off our roads and offer drivers a fair deal, especially the many diesel drivers who bought vehicles thinking they were more environmentally friendly after government advice.”
Similar schemes on the way across Europe
Other European cities are also introducing measures to cut pollution. In France, under the Crit-Air scheme, all French registered vehicles entering Paris now have to display a sticker stating how much they pollute; failure to do so will result in a fine. The new rules also became applicable to foreign vehicles, including British ones, from 1 April 2017.
The French authorities have introduced the scheme to combat air pollution after several recent bouts of smog. Vehicles will qualify for one of six different coloured stickers that are based on their emissions, ranging from zero-emissions electric vehicles to diesel-engined vans and trucks.
However, the stickers aren’t being given out for all vehicles, meaning cars first registered before 1997 aren’t allowed in the city at all during the schemes operating hours of 8am to 8pm from Monday to Friday. Scooters and motorcycles built before 2000 are also banned, along with trucks and busses built before 2001.
Unlike London, Paris does not have a fee-paying congestion zone: instead it was operating a scheme that banned some cars at peak times, identifying them by their numberplate.
Anyone who wants to take their vehicle anywhere in the city inside the Périphérique ring road (similar to our M25) must order a windscreen sticker for it via the Crit-Air website. The cost is €3.70 (£3.20) plus postage.
Paris is not the first to introduce a restricted vehicle zone, with 200 European towns and cities already having similar zones, including 53 in Germany.
London introduced the Low Emission Zone (LEZ) in 2008, requiring the most-polluting diesel vehicles to pay a daily fee of for entering Greater London.
To find out about low emission zones across Europe click here.
Got a motoring question? Our experts are standing by to help, just tweet us your question using #askwhatcar
For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here