£10k/year charges on horizon for driving older, polluting vehicles in London

Image credit: Geoff Henson, CC BY-ND 2.0 license).

More motorists with older, higher polluting vehicles in Central London could face paying up to £10,000 each year – just for driving their car every day. That’s the estimated annual figure facing drivers who qualify to pay the 24-hour ULEZ (Ultra Low Emission Zone) fee on top of the Congestion Charge (currently between 7am and 10pm) – if they need to pay both every day, writes LeaseCar.uk

From October 25, the ULEZ zone is expanding in Central London to create a single, larger zone which is set to affect many more motorists.

Other cities across the UK will be observing how the new charges are implemented as they consider their own measures, such as Clean Air Zones, to drive down air pollution.

Taking into account exemptions and discounts, LeaseCar.uk has estimated what it could cost a motorist to pay for the Congestion Charge and the ULEZ charge if they were eligible to pay both for every day of the year – and it could reach more than £10,000 – demonstrating the importance of investing in lower polluting vehicles.

A spokesman for LeaseCar.uk said: “Many people may not realise the ULEZ zone in London is to be expanded in the autumn, or know if their vehicle will be affected.

“Motorists in the capital whose vehicles qualify to have to pay the ULEZ fee may also have to pay the Congestion Charge as well, depending on where and when they are driving. The costs can really mount up, depending on how many days they need to use their vehicle in these designated areas, so it’s useful to highlight what is happening.”

At a daily cost of £12.50, the ULEZ charge is applicable every day of the year except Christmas Day, in the same way as the Congestion Charge. If drivers have to pay £15 a day for the Congestion Charge as well, the total comes out at £10,010 for a standard 365-day year (except a leap year) – before they have even turned the key in the ignition.

Most vehicles, including cars and vans, must meet the ULEZ emissions standards or their drivers face the daily charge to drive within the zone. Meanwhile, lorries, buses, coaches and other heavier vehicles face a £36,400 bill for a ULEZ fee if using their vehicle every day of the year at £100 a day.

Transport for London (TfL) estimates around four out of five cars already meet the ULEZ emissions standards, but have introduced the guidelines to encourage the owners of older more polluting cars, motorcycles and lighter vans and minibuses to act.

Cars, motorcycles, vans and other specialist vehicles (up to and including 3.5 tonnes) and minibuses (up to and including five tonnes) will incur the daily charge when driving in the ULEZ zone if they don’t meet emissions standards.

Road signs and advanced information signals will inform motorists if they are entering the zone and cameras will read number plates of vehicles driving in the zone to determine if they comply with the ULEZ standards.

TfL has recently launched a consultation around the Congestion Charge, running until October 6. It proposes keeping the daily charge at £15, but changing the charging period from Monday to Friday, 7am to 6pm, and weekends and Bank Holidays from midday to 6pm. There would be no proposed charge between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Various discounts and reimbursements are proposed. If approved, changes would come into force on February 28 next year.

All money raised from ULEZ will be invested back into the transport network. You can find out more about the schemes, discounts, exemptions and charges on the TfL website.