Own a diesel car? Then London’s imminent Ultra Low Emission Zone may affect you

The world’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) is to start 8 April 2019, approximately 17 months earlier than planned.

Yes, in just a few weeks.

To help improve air quality, an Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) will be in place in central London from 8 April 2019. Most vehicles including cars and vans will need to meet new, tighter exhaust emission standards (ULEZ standards) or pay a daily  £12.50 charge to travel within the area of the ULEZ.

Initially this will apply to the same areas as the current Congestion Zone  –  so we’re not included, unless we drive inside the Congestion Zone (where the familiar existing charges will continue to apply as well).

The ULEZ will supersede the Toxicity  Charge (T-charge – see Note below) and create stricter emissions standards for diesel vehicles, 24 hours, 7 days a week. Those that do not comply will face a charge.


From 25 October 2021, the ULEZ area will be expanded to include the inner London area bounded by the North and South Circular Roads  –  a dramatic expansion which of course brings Herne Hill into the zone. Here, as we understand it, simply owning a car that falls short of the new emission standards will incur its owners a daily charge of £12.50, in addition to any congestion charge payable if they drive into the central Congestion Zone.

Expanding ULEZ

This is expected to reduce harmful NOx (Nitrogen Oxides) emissions by about 50 per cent in central London, 40 per cent in inner London and 30 per cent in outer London.

And obviously, it will simultaneously bring about a collapse in the resale value of older second-hand cars.

Transport for London have published a detailed, and somewhat complicated, pack of guidance on this issue, accessed on their website.

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NOTE: The T-Charge (aka the Toxicity Charge) is a £10 levy on older vehicles entering the centre of London. It came into effect on 23 October 2017 and applies to all vehicles which do not meet Euro 4 emissions standards – typically those registered before 2006.

Currently, the T-Charge runs in the same area and over the same operating times (Monday to Friday 7am-6pm) as the existing London Congestion Charge zone.

Pre-Euro 4 vehicles entering the zone during the prescribed hours are liable for a daily fee of £21.50 (this including the existing £11.50 Congestion Charge levy).

Transport for London (TfL) has provided an online vehicle checker  for users to determine whether their car meets the Euro 4 standard. 

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