Ultra Low Emission Zone

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

What is the Ultra Low Emission Zone?

From 8 April 2019 the current London T-charge will be replaced by an Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) which will operate 24 hours per day, seven days per week within the current congestion charge area. In October 2021 this ULEZ will also be extended to an area 18-times larger than the original zone.

ULEZ charges will be £12.50 per day for non-compliant cars and vans, rising to £100 per day for non-compliant HGVs. This charge will be payable in addition to the pre-existing weekday Congestion Charge and Low Emission Zone (LEZ) charge. The Mayor also announced intentions to tighten the standards for the most polluting heavy vehicles including buses, coaches and lorries across the whole of London from October 2020.

It has been estimated that 100,000 cars, 35,000 vans and 3,000 lorries will be affected by the new scheme every day. Expanding the ULEZ beyond Central London alongside the new standards for heavy vehicles across the capital is expected to result in 100,000 Londoners no longer living in areas exceeding legal air quality limits by 2021.

Details about the implementation of the ULEZ are available on the Transport for London website.


Map reproduced with the permission of TfL.


What changes is the BVRLA calling for within the Ultra Low Emission Zone scheme?

The BVRLA is concerned about the impact the ULEZ could have on businesses operating within central London, as well as the effects on those living and working within the extended zone from October 2021. The association is therefore actively engaging with Transport for London and calling for the application of the following six recommendations:

1. Promote vehicle rental, leasing and car clubs as options for sourcing affordable compliant vehicles.

BVRLA members are perfectly placed to support those caught out by the new ULEZ. Leasing, rental, car clubs, as well as the second-hand market (which is supplied by our industry), all offer affordable solutions for those requiring a quick upgrade to compliant vehicles.

2. Include mitigation measures such as a penalty grace period and extended scrappage schemes within delivery plans for the further, expanded Low Emission Zone.

The new low emission zone is projected to impact 100,000 cars, 35,000 vans and 3,000 lorries every day across the whole of London. If this new zone is to deliver its emission reduction aims mitigation measures to support those effected transition to cleaner, compliant vehicles, must be offered. Without such support the new zone is in danger of becoming treated as no more than an additional tax burden which fails to improve air quality.

3. London Boroughs considering zero emission zones must take steps to ensure such schemes do not cause unintentional damage to businesses and traffic.

The move to introduce zero emission zones within various London boroughs could unintentionally stop businesses from receiving critical deliveries as well as increase congestion as goods are delivered via a larger number of smaller vans rather than a smaller number of HGVs. Pragmatic solutions such as night time deliveries must therefore be considered urgently.

4. Greater co-ordination and investment is required to grow the existing London Electric Vehicle infrastructure.

Without an adequate electric vehicle infrastructure Londoners will struggle to upgrade to low emission vehicles. Providing a clear direction of travel with transparent targets for electric vehicle infrastructure will be vital to give the fleet sector the confidence to upgrade the vehicles they can offer.

5. Trial mobility credits within London, to help small businesses and low-income families to respond to the new emission requirements.

The Mayor has previously acknowledged the positive role mobility credits could take in supporting lower income households and small businesses who otherwise may be caught out by the ULEZ. Now is the time for London to lead the way and introduce a scheme ahead of the most far reaching low emission plans of anywhere in the UK.

6. Publish details of plans at least six years in advance to give operators confidence and certainty for fleet choice decision making. 

As many fleets will be operated for a set cycle period of several years, visibility of plans as far as possible in advance is vital to futureproof vehicle choices. 2025 is now for many fleets who by 2019 have already chosen the vehicles they will be operating in six years’ time.

What actions has the BVRLA taken in response to the Ultra Low Emission Zone?

  • Engagement

The BVRLA continues to actively engage with Transport for London (TfL), both ahead of the ULEZ launch in April 2019 and regarding the extension of the zone in 2021. In November 2018 the association co-hosted an event with TfL, aimed to help plan and develop a marketing and communications campaign targeting SME van drivers that are likely to be impacted by the ULEZ. 50 representatives from government, business, fleet management and vehicle suppliers such as auctioneers all attended to share insights and contribute to the campaign plans.

TfL have also presented to BVRLA members at meetings and contributed a blog on the ULEZ to help prepare those effected by the changes.

  • Scrappage scheme

In December 2018 the London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, opened a van scrappage fund to help small businesses and charities who need to upgrade their vehicles ahead of the ULEZ launch.

Options include payments to scrap a non-compliant van or minibus, help with the running costs of a new electric vehicle or a payment to help access rental and sharing schemes across London.

The Government already offers grants to cover the capital cost of electric vans. The Mayor’s scheme has been designed to complement this and is aimed at small businesses with fewer than ten employees as well as registered charities.

The BVRLA worked with TfL ahead of the scheme’s launch and was quoted within the Mayor’s press release, highlighting the vital role rental and car clubs will play in supporting businesses shift to ULEZ-compliant vehicles.

Apply for the scheme on the TfL website

  • Consultation responses

The BVRLA responded to the Mayor’s ULEZ consultation in February 2017. The association was encouraged to see that car clubs were highlighted as a sustainable option by the Mayor in his response to the consultation. The BVRLA’s submission suggestion of a sunset clause was also taken up by the Mayor for residents but the recommendation of a similar clause for small businesses was not adopted, with a scrappage scheme introduced instead.

  • ULEZ Factsheet

A ULEZ factsheet has been developed by the BVRLA to outline the role that the vehicle rental, leasing and car club sector can play in accelerating the uptake of ultra-low emission vehicles, to encourage people to use more active, public and shared modes of transport, and to highlight the association's  six recommendations for policymakers. 

How can you support the BVRLA’s Ultra Low Emission Zone work?

  • Share your ULEZ story

Sharing individual stories is a very powerful way to explain the real life impact the ULEZ has on businesses and residents.

If you have been affected by the ULEZ and have a story you’d be happy for the BVRLA to share, then please complete the form below. Maybe you have recently upgraded a fleet, or used an innovative solution to ensure vehicle compliance? Or maybe you are going to be forced to pay the charge and are concerned about the effect this has on your business or household expenditure? Whatever your experience, the BVRLA would like to hear from you and help tell decision makers your story.

Please share your experience of the London ULtra Low Emission Zone and summarise how the zone will affect you or your company.


  • Support the scrappage scheme

Members are encouraged to either highlight the TfL scrappage scheme to eligible customers or consider supporting the scheme by applying to be a third-party promoter on the TfL webpage. More information is available on the TfL website.


Other ULEZ resources