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London’s New Low Emission Charge Zone Sparks Protest Fears

By Stephen Turvil | December 19, 2018


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London Ultra Low Emission Zone raises the cost of motoring so might spark yellow jacket style protests, expert warns

London’s New Low Emission Charge Zone Sparks Protest Fears

Low emission zone launches April 2019

The London Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) is poised to cost motorists hundreds of millions of pounds so might spark mass protests from its launch in 2019, Conservative London Assembly Member Gareth Bacon warns. He adds that drivers ‘do not know what is going to hit them’ and expects some to pay thousands every year.

The fear, therefore, is that drivers will take to the street in scenes similar to the recent, yellow jacket themed, fuel tax protests in France. French riots have caused countless injuries, extensive property damage and inspired a feeling of national crisis. The President himself has been forced to offer concessions.

ULEZ purpose

The Ultra Low Emission Zone’s primary purpose is to improve air quality. Dirty air causes health issues, after all. On this basis, the scheme charges drivers of vehicles that pollute heavily to enter some parts of the city. It therefore encourages them to switch to newer, cleaner, alternatives and to use public transport.

Widespread concern

Despite the good intentions the scheme is causing widespread concern. The Alliance of British Drivers, for example, says the government must ban local authorities from launching such initiatives to avoid riots. The RAC adds that it hits poorer drivers particularly hard. Also, Change.org says more than 24,000 motorists signed a petition calling for the scheme to be curtailed.

How Ultra Low Emission Zone works

The Ultra Low Emission Zone relates to many types of vehicle. The table below reveals some of the more common and the minimum emission standards they must meet to avoid a charge. It further confirms the approximate year from which most vehicles hit the required standards (plus the daily charge for any that fall short).


VehicleEmission standardApproximate yearCharge

Euro 4 (petrol)

Euro 6 (diesel)




Euro 4 (petrol)

Euro 6 (diesel)



MotorcycleEuro 32007£12.50
MopedEuro 32007£12.50
LorryEuro 6
BusEuro 6
CoachEuro 6
BreakdownEuro 6
Fire enginesEuro 6
GritterEuro 6
Refuge collectionEuro 62014£100


London’s New Low Emission Charge Zone Sparks Protest Fears Image 1


• Ultra Low Emission Zone operates within the existing Congestion Charge Zone (CCZ) from April 8th 2019

• Ultra Low Emission Zone – but not the CCZ – extends to the North and South Circular Roads from October 25th 2021

• Applies 24 hours a day and 365 days a year

• Pay online, by phone or automatically

• Zone marked by signs at the roadside

• Penalty for not paying is an £80 to £1,000 fine (depending on the type of vehicle and how quickly the fine is paid)

London Mayor champions new scheme

Mayor Sadiq Khan champions the new initiative and is keen to improve air quality. He adds that air pollution is a ’national health crisis’ and he refuses to stand by as people ‘breath air so filthy it shortens life expectancy’. Action is required, he argues.

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