The expansion of the ULEZ (Ultra Low Emission Zone) at the end of August to cover the whole of London has been given the green light following a ruling from the High Court

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has made the expansion of the ULEZ his flagship clean-air policy, and after announcing the idea back in November 2022, it’ll come into effect from 29th August 2023. Khan is wanting to expand the zone to help tackle the increasingly high levels of nitrogen dioxide pollution in London and he’s doing that by making the owners of the most polluting kinds of vehicles pay to drive them in the capital.

The expansion of the ULEZ has received a lot of opposition, particularly from the Conservatives who have been campaigning to get the proposal scrapped. Five Tory-led councils – Hillingdon, Bromley, Bexley and Harrow – plus Surrey county council tried to block the expansion at the High Court but the legal challenge was dismissed at the end of July, so it will be going ahead. Though the area that the ULEZ will now cover is changing, the price of the charge is not.

How much does it cost to drive in the ULEZ?

If your vehicle doesn’t meet the ULEZ emission standards, it costs £12.50 a day to drive anywhere within the zone, including for residents (however if your car is parked and you don’t drive it anywhere, you don’t have to pay the charge). According to TfL, 9 out of 10 cars being driven in outer London already meet the emissions standard (typically petrol cars registered after 2006 and diesel cars registered after 2015). You can check whether your car meets the standard here.

Where will the ULEZ expand to?

The ULEZ first came into action in April 2019 and covered the same area of London as the congestion charge (which costs drivers £15 per day), and was then widened in October 2021 to reach up to the North Circular and South Circular. The August 2023 expansion of the ULEZ will cover all London boroughs, bordering right up to the M25 in places like Enfield, Harmondsworth and Upminster. You can see the full zone here.

What support options are there?

Previously only open to those who are on certain benefits as charities and businesses of a certain size, Sadiq Khan has now announced that he’s extending the scrappage scheme where you’ll be paid to scrap non-compliant vehicles and get help to switch to a greener vehicle, to all Londoners. Changes to the grant scheme will be coming in two stages – the first is already in force and sees an increase in the money available for business vehicles, vans, minibuses and wheelchair accessible vehicles. Then from 21st August, every Londoner with a non-ULEZ compliant car will be eligible for a £2000 grant and those with non-compliant motorbikes will be eligible for a £1000 grant, or a package of up to two bus and tram passes plus a lower grant.

Other groups could also be exempt from ULEZ charges for a period of time, you can see the list of those eligible for discounts and exemptions here. Additional bus routes, like the Superloop, are also being introduced across Greater London to make travelling around the suburbs easier.