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ULEZ Restrictions - car exhaust fumes

Drivers, businesses and service operators of larger vehicles weighing 3.5 tonnes and above are being advised to check how the incoming Low Emission Zone (LEZ) changes will impact them when changes to new legislation come into force, all thanks to a free online vehicle emissions checker.

From October 2020, changes to the existing LEZ will mean that 4×4 pick-ups and caravans will join HGVs, coaches and buses as part of a range of larger vehicles that will need to meet new stringent emissions criteria to enter and operate within the M25. 

It is highly probable that many drivers will be confused by the incoming changes which is why HPI is helping drivers of 4 x 4s, pick-up trucks, motorised horseboxes and motor caravans prepare themselves from being unwittingly penalised for driving a vehicle within or exceeding designated weight restriction levels.*

The first Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) came into force in London in April 2019 as part of an environmental strategy the Mayor of London is driving to clean up London’s toxic air.

The rationale behind the ULEZ is simple. London’s air pollution is increasing people’s risk of heart and lung disease and asthma. Road transport is the biggest source of the emissions damaging health in London.

That’s why the government through Transport for London is taking action to help clean up our dangerously polluted air and vastly improve public health.

Around half of emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) come from transport. They contribute to illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter (PM) – pollutants which make chronic illnesses worse, shorten life expectancy and damage lung development.

The communities suffering most from poor air quality are often the most vulnerable, including children. It is estimated that there are at least 360 primary schools in areas with illegal pollution levels.

ULEZ represents one way to help tackle the most harmful emissions generated by road transport in central London and throughout the city. One of the major benefits of the ULEZ is that its introduction will help cut exhaust NOx and PM emissions, improving air quality and making central London a safer and more pleasant place to live, work and visit.

The young, older people and those who have respiratory problems, as well as people who reside in high pollution areas will all feel the benefit of ULEZ.

Most of the traffic entering the ULEZ will be from outside the zone, so the benefits of cleaner, greener vehicles in the form of reduced emissions will be experienced across London, even to areas not in the zone.

HPI’s free online emissions checker allows users to establish the Euro emissions rating of their cars and LCVs up to and including Euro 6 standard and helps them understand how they are impacted by driving in London’s ULEZ.

The tool helps motorists identify which vehicles will need to meet Euro 6 standards or be liable to pay a daily charge to drive within the Greater London area.

In the past five months alone we have already helped over 53,000 drivers and can support many more around the UK who will be affected by the rollout of clean air zones across British cities.

Of the vehicles checked by the tool in the past five months, the following vehicle types have been checked most often:

  • Euro 6 – 44.6%
  • Euro 5 – 41.1%
  • Euro 4 – 11.3%
  • Euro 3, Euro 2 and Euro 1 amount to 3% of the total

This equates to around 350 checks per day or over 2,400 per week.

Current LEZ emissions standards set a limit for how much particulate matter a vehicle may emit. The tougher standards will also set a limit for nitrogen oxides (NOx) for some vehicles.

Following the launch of the UK’s first ULEZ in the capital, attempts to replicate the scheme are already rolling out in major cities throughout the country.  Numerous Clean Air Zones (CAZs) are currently being implemented in cities where transport pollution is a major problem.  The first five cities outside of London required to introduce a Clean Air Zone are Birmingham, Derby, Leeds, Nottingham and Southampton.

The Government regulations aim to bring nitrogen dioxide levels within the legal limit in the shortest possible time by 2021 at the latest, and has also named 23 local authorities where it expects pollution levels to reach illegal levels by 2021. They must all carry out a feasibility study to determine whether a Clean Air Zone is required.

Drivers who enter the capital in vehicles which do not comply with the new emissions will be subject to a £12.50 fee on top of the £11.50 congestion charge. Charges apply once in every 24-hour period (midnight to midnight) when entering or driving in the zone. This would apply seven days a week, 365 days a year.

In addition to the existing LEZ emissions standards operating across most of Greater London, phased implementation of these tougher emissions standards will affect different vehicle types and different geographical areas within London. Now is the time to check and take the necessary steps to avoid incurring penalties later in the year as there is margin for drivers of certain vehicles to be caught out especially with different vehicle weights.

Over the next 12-18 months drivers will face lots of changes as a result of the implementation of the Government’s commitment to a clean air strategy. Our online check is completely free and allows motorists to check the emissions standard of their vehicle up to and including Euro 6 and potentially avoid a fine.

You can check your vehicle’s Euro Emission Standard here:

Euro emissions standards explained:

  • Euro 1 -July 1992 (Jan 1993). From here on all cars had to have a catalytic converter and run on unleaded petrol to cut carbon monoxide emissions
  • Euro 2- Jan 1996 (Jan 1997). The limits were cut for carbon monoxide, unburned hydrocarbons and oxides of nitrogen, with different emission limits for petrol and diesel
  • Euro 3 – Jan 2000 (Jan 2001). Carbon monoxide and diesel particulate limits were reduced and there were separate HC and NOx limits for petrol engines
  • Euro 4 – Jan 2005 (Jan 2006). Focus on cleaning up emissions from diesel cars, especially particulate matter and nitrogen oxides
  • Euro 5 – Sept 2009 (Jan 2011). Particulate emissions for diesel cut. Filters required; NOx limits reduced by 28%. Particulates limit for direct injection petrol engines. Particulate emissions cut further on all diesels approved after Sept 2011.
  • Euro 6 – Sept 2014 (Sept 2015). A big reduction in NOx emissions from diesels (67% compared with Euro 5), with petrol and diesel cars now having to comply with the same rules.

Vehicles affected by the new LEZ standard more than 3.5 tonnes gross vehicle weight vehicles include:

  • Lorries
  • Vans
  • Motor caravans
  • Motorised horseboxes
  • Breakdown and recovery vehicles
  • Snow ploughs
  • Gritters
  • Refuse collection vehicles
  • Road sweepers
  • Concrete mixers
  • Fire engines
  • Tippers
  • Removal lorries
  • Other specialist heavy vehicles

Vehicles of more than 5 tonnes gross vehicle weight include:

  • Buses/minibuses (with 8+ passenger seats)
  • Coaches (with 8+ passenger seats)

Under the new regulations, some vehicle types will need to meet the current LEZ standards only.  The tougher LEZ standards will not apply to the following vehicle weighing over 1.205 tonnes unladen weight up to and including 3.5 tonnes gross vehicle weight:

  • Vans
  • Motorised horseboxes
  • 4×4 light utility vehicles
  • Pick-ups
  • Dual purpose vehicles
  • Breakdown and recovery vehicles
  • Motor caravans (over 2.5 tonnes gross vehicle weight)
  • Ambulances (over 2.5 tonnes gross vehicle weight)
  • Motorised hearses (over 2.5 tonnes gross vehicle weight)
  • Other specialist diesel vehicles

Up to and including 5 tonnes gross vehicle weight:

  • Minibuses (with 8+ passenger seats)