The purpose of the Low Emission Zone (LEZ) is quite simply to discourage the most polluting vehicles on London’s roads from using them, thus keeping the Capital’s air cleaner. In short, the LEZ is a geographical area and if you’re driving inside it, your vehicle must comply with the regulations or you’ll have to pay a daily charge… and if you don’t pay that, you’ll get a hefty fine. Because of the numerous zone types and their locations, it can all be a bit confusing when you’re trying to unravel the mystery of whether or not your vehicle will be affected. In this post, we’ll try and briefly describe where you stand at the moment and whether future changes will have an impact on your life.
ULEZ, LEZ and CCZ – What does it all mean for UK drivers?
If you find the above abbreviations confusing, you’re not alone. If what they mean isn’t confusing enough, trying to figure out if they apply to your vehicle based on where you live and the journey you’re planning on taking is enough to give you a thumping headache. So, let’s try and ease the pain with a brief overview:
ULEZ (Ultra Low Emission Zone)
Currently in force in a small area of Central London, the £12.50 ULEZ charge applies 24 hours a day every day of the year and is based on European emission standards. With the exception of London’s Black Cabs which are exempt from paying the charge, ULEZ rules apply to:
- Motorbikes that do not meet Euro 3 standards (pre-2007 vehicles)
- Petrol cars and vans that do not meet Euro 4 standards (vehicles pre-2006)
- Diesel cars and vans that do not meet Euro 6 standards (vehicles pre-2015)
- Buses, coaches and lorries must meet or exceed the Euro VI standard or pay £100 a day
CCZ (Congestion Charge Zone)
The Congestion Charge Zone covers the same geographic area in Central London as ULEZ and is currently set at £11.50 per day for driving a vehicle within the zone between 7 am and 6 pm Monday to Friday excluding 25th December to 1st January.
LEZ (Low Emission Zone) – Important changes in 2020 and 2021
At the moment, the LEZ that’s already in place covers a huge swathe of the Greater London area. Aside from all of the London postcode area, it also includes many of the areas in Kent covered by Ace Breakers including Bexleyheath, Sidcup, Orpington and Bromley. The LEZ operates 24 hours a day and every day of the year without exception.
LEZ changes from 26 October 2020
The change focusses on emissions standards, charges and penalties mainly affecting HGVs, lorries, vans and most other vehicles over 3.5 tonnes. This includes buses/minibuses and coaches over 5 tonnes that are used inside the geographical LEZ.
ULEZ changes from 25 October 2021
The current ULEZ boundary will be extended significantly from the current central London area, spreading all the way out to the borders of the north and South Circular arterial roads. You can drive on the both the North and Sout Circular road itself without the need to comply with the LEZ rules but if you stray inside the zone (e.g. pulling into a side road inside the zone) your vehicle will need to be compliant
How do I know if my vehicle is LEZ compliant?
It’s a very pertinent question that’s on a lot of people’s minds right now. In our opinion, the best way to check is to visit the TFL (Transport for London) website and enter your vehicle’s registration number to find out. That way, you’re getting the correct info “straight from the horse’s mouth” as it were. Also, make sure that you bookmark the page so you can go back and check once the new rules come into play.
Yes, it’s aimed at cleaning up London’s air, yes it’s confusing and yes, it may be costly. The bottom line is that if you live in the LEZ catchment area and own an older car, particularly a diesel, you may be in for a rough ride in the future.