Like many big cities, London isn’t exactly a car-friendly place. The capital’s motorists already face chronic traffic problems and an £11.50 a day Congestion Charge fee, with the recent £10 ‘T-Charge’ (Toxicity-Charge) introduction merely adding to the pain. And in the next few years it’s set to get worse.
Currently, the T-Charge covers all vehicles that comply with Euro III standards or earlier, but by 8 April 2019, the Ultra Low Emission Zone will be established, meaning motorbikes will need to be at least Euro 3 compliant or better, petrol cars at least Euro 4, and diesels Euro 6 or newer. Unlike T-Charge, which operates from 7am-6pm Monday to Friday, ULEZ will be a 24 hours a day, seven days a week kinda deal. If your car doesn’t comply, it’s a £12.50 fee, on top of the £11.50 Congestion Charge (which covers the same area of central London) if you travel at the ‘wrong’ time.
“Ah,” you’re probably thinking, “I’ll just avoid central London. It’s a nightmare to drive in anyway.” You’d have a point, but the current proposal is to expand the ULEZ in 2021, up to the North and South Circular roads.
This would mean driving a pre-2005 petrol car anywhere at any time in this huge area is going to cost £12. It’s worse for diesel owners - any pre-2014 model won’t be Euro 6, so it’ll be liable for the charge. So it’s not just cool, modern classics that’ll become prohibitively expensive to run in London, but hundreds of thousands of regular motors.
This week Autocar obtained new figures from the SMMT (Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders) that point to over 1.6 million drivers being affected by the extended zone. Specifically, 782,439 diesel cars and 858,018 petrols currently in the capital fall foul of the proposed changes, far more than the 576,000 total figure which Transport For London has touted.
A public consultation on the expansion is running is running until 28 February 2018.