The Ulez was first introduced in 2019. (Image: Matt Brown/Flickr)
London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (Ulez) will be expanding to cover all the capital’s boroughs in August 2023, meaning cars, motorbikes, vans and other vehicles which pollute the roads face a £12.50 charge each day they are inside the zone.
Many drivers who want to drive in London will have to sell or scrap their vehicles as they may not be compliant with the Ulez emissions guidelines.
So to help Londoners to prepare for the expansion, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan launched a scrappage scheme offering financial help to retrofit or scrap high-polluting cars for certain Londoners, pointing to the rising cost of living as a key consideration for the scheme.
Khan previously said expanding the Ulez will build “a better, greener, fairer, and healthier London for everyone” by tackling the threats of air pollution, the climate crisis, and congestion.
The London Assembly said the expansion will save 27,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide in outer London as well as reducing nitrogen dioxide emissions by up to 10 per cent and reducing PM2.5 particulate matter emissions by 16 per cent.
Figures from the RAC suggest almost 700,000 drivers will have to pay the daily Ulez charge following the expansion, which comes into effect on August 29, and said it would have a “massive financial impact on motorists and businesses”.
The scrappage scheme, which the London Assembly said is the biggest scrappage scheme ever introduced in the UK, is designed to help those concerned with the cost associated with the Ulez expansion.
Not everyone is eligible for the scheme, however, so here’s everything you need to know about it.
What happens if I live in the Ulez?
The Ulez was first introduced to central London in 2019 and expanded to the edge of the North and South Circular boundary roads in 2021.
If you live and drive within the Ulez, you have to ensure your car complies with its emission guidelines.
The TfL website offers a system where people can check their registered licence plates to see if they are required to pay the Ulez charge.
Khan launched a £110 million scrappage scheme in January, providing grants of up to £2,000 for eligible drivers to scrap or retrofit their high-polluting, older cars or up to £1,000 for motorcycles from August.
The London Authority states the scrappage scheme is designed to help people “switch to cleaner, greener modes of transport”.
The scrappage scheme is aimed at “Londoners on lower incomes, disabled Londoners, charities, sole traders, and businesses with fewer than 10 employees”.
There are certain restrictions to who can benefit from the scheme, as applicants must live within one of the 32 London boroughs or the City of London, have not benefited from the previous Ulez scrappage scheme, and be receiving one or more benefits such as universal credit, housing benefit, or disability living allowance.
The application form also requires proof of ID, proof of address, and the vehicle’s insurance details and log book.
Small businesses, and sole traders who want to apply for the scheme must also be registered within London’s 32 boroughs or the City of London and have fewer than 10 employees or less than £632,000 turnover annually. Charities must also be registered in the London area.
Disabled people and community transport vehicles have also been given discounts and exemptions on the Ulez charge until at least 2025 to allow them more time to change their cars.
The short answer is yes, you can convert your car to be Ulez compliant, but to do so can be expensive and complicated. Retrofitting a non-compliant vehicle would include upgrading the exhaust system or changing the engine.
Switching the engine would mean having to to tell the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) about the change and the car would need to undergo a road emissions test to find out what the engine’s emissions values are.
The work would also need to be done at a facility accredited by the Vehicle Certification Agency.
In addition to the cost of the work, the road emissions test is also very costly. The scrappage scheme’s grants can be used for retrofitting but people who are not eligible may find the cost too exorbitant.
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