How decision on ULEZ was made?

Current ULEZ scheme

In April 2019 the Mayor of London launched the world’s first ULEZ scheme in Central London to help tackle air pollution. The scheme works by applying a £12.50 daily charge to any vehicle which enters the ULEZ that does not comply with the specified emission standards.

Any vehicle that enters a ULEZ zone must either be compliant with the relevant emissions standards, be exempt from ULEZ charges, or pay the daily charge no later than the third day following the journey. Cameras are used to check vehicle registration numbers against Transport for London’s (TfL) database for compliance.

ULEZ replaced the toxicity charge, a £10 supplement to the congestion charge, and introduced tighter emission standards for vehicles, as well as operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (except Christmas Day). Initially the zone covered the same area as the congestion charge zone.

In March 2021 heavy vehicle standards were incorporated into the scheme, and later that year, in October 2021, the Mayor expanded the scheme up to, but not including the North Circular (A406) and South Circular (A205) roads.

The scheme is administered by TfL and revenue collected is reinvested into maintaining and improving London’s transport network.

The standards for different vehicle categories under the ULEZ scheme are:  

  • Euro 3 for motorcycles, mopeds, motorised tricycles and quadricycles (L category)
  • Euro 4 (NOx) for petrol cars, vans, minibuses and other specialist vehicles
  • Euro 6 (NOx and PM) for diesel cars, vans and minibuses and other specialist vehicles.

A person may be issued with a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) if they drive into the ULEZ in a vehicle that does not meet the appropriate emissions standard and they fail to pay the daily charge. This applies to both UK and non-UK registered vehicles. The penalty charge is £160 for all vehicle types although this is halved if paid within 14 days of the PCN being received.

Several exemptions and grace periods (temporary exemptions) are also in place. These cover vehicles registered for ‘disabled’ or ‘disabled passenger’ tax, community transport minibuses, London taxis, historic vehicles and other specialist vehicles.

Planned expansion of ULEZ

In May 2022, TfL opened a consultation on expanding the ULEZ to all London boroughs. TfL state on their website:

Poor air quality is impacting the health of Londoners, and it’s mainly caused by polluting vehicles. It’s not just a central or inner London problem. In fact, the greatest number of health issues related to air pollution occur in outer London areas.

The consultation contained four proposals, which also impact the LEZ and Congestion Charge schemes, to:

  1. Expand the current ULEZ to the LEZ boundary on 29 August 2023 and extend existing grace periods.
  2. Remove the £10 annual registration fee for each vehicle registered for AutoPay for the Congestion Charge, ULEZ and LEZ from 30 January 2023 to remove this barrier to sign up.
  3. Increase the PCN level for ULEZ and the Congestion Charge from £160 to £180 from 30 January 2023 in recognition that its deterrent effect has diminished over time.
  4. Make minor administrative changes to the ULEZ, LEZ and Congestion Charge schemes to increase flexibility or remove expired provisions.


TfL consulated on the proposed expansion in 2022. The ten-week consultation period ended on 29 July 2022, with 57,937 respondents. This included 342 responses from stakeholders and 11,868 from organisations. When asked about whether the ULEZ scheme should be expanded, the majority of respondents (59%) thought it should not be implemented. Concerns raised by a large number of respondents were focussed on affordability of the scheme for people in ULEZ, the impact on workers and provisions for those with disabilities.

Alongside the public consultation, the Greater London Authority (GLA) commissioned a poll to understand Londoners’ views on the proposals. The survey was carried out by YouGov between 15th and 20th July 2022 with 1,245 responses which were weighted to be representative of all London adults. Just over half of those surveyed (51%) supported the ULEZ expansion, and just over a quarter (27%) thought it should not be enacted at all.

TfL mitigations and Mayor London Decision

In response to the consultation outcome TfL made two modifications to the planned scheme change. The first is two new time limited grace periods until 24 October 2027 in addition to the current provisions for disabled people. These are:

  • Disabled Benefits grace period for those on the standard rate mobility component of Personal Independence Payments (PIP)
  • Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles grace period

The other mitigation is a scrappage scheme with £110 million funding which will initially be targeted at people with lower incomes, disabled Londoners, microbusinesses (those with less than 10 employees) and charities in Greater London. Those eligible can apply to the scheme to receive a payment to trade in a non-compliant vehicle for a compliant one. The money available will be £1,000 for motorcycles, £2,000 for cars, £5,000 for wheelchair accessible vehicles, and £5,000-£9,500 for vans and minibuses for microbusinesses and charities.

In November 2022, TfL submitted their report on expanding ULEZ to the Mayor of London. The Mayor of London has powers to introduce “road user charging” across all Greater London or some parts of it, under Section 295 of the Greater London Authority Act 1999. The report set out the proposals for expansion, the results of the consultation and recommendations. TfL asked the Mayor to confirm the variation orders.

On 25 November 2022, the Mayor announced that the expansion of ULEZ would go ahead, including the additional mitigation measures.

There has been opposition to the expansion of ULEZ, including from a number of local councils and 29 MPs who wrote to the Mayor of London asking for expansion to be cancelled.