What should I know about ULEZ?

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As people are more aware of the effects of climate change, it is important to start making lifestyle changes. Transport emissions are a massive contributor to pollution, according to a number of reports, which is why Britain introduced the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in an attempt to tackle the problem.

ULEZ launched in April 2019, but how many of us know what it is? This piece of Volvo Fleets explains in detail what ULEZ is, what drivers think about it and the potential costs of the program.

As our planet experiences the adverse effects of climate change, many of us have considered making ecological changes to our lifestyles. Whether that means sipping an ice cold drink through a paper straw or turning to sustainable clothing purchases, people play their part in so many ways.

One of the most effective methods of protecting our environment is to review the way we go out and move around. Indeed, it is no secret that pollution caused by traffic has repercussions on the well-being of our planet. For this reason, since 2019 Britain has decided to tackle the problem by introducing Very Low Emission Zones (ULEZ).

First launched in London on April 8, 2019, ULEZs are making their way to major cities across the UK including Birmingham, Leeds, Nottingham, Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow. But what is it exactly? What do drivers think? This article provides a summary of ULEZ, while detailing its potential costs.

What is ULEZ?

As the name and acronym suggest, Ultra Low Emission Zones are areas in cities where commuters and residents who drive must meet specific emission standards. The ultimate goal of the program is to keep the air as clean as possible, while improving the health of citizens.

In London, more specifically, the ULEZ was significantly expanded from October 25, 2021. Initially limited to the most congested central areas of the capital, the original area has grown 18 times the size. The expanded ULEZ now includes all routes of the southern and northern circular routes.

To travel in ULEZ, you must drive a specific type of vehicle. Indeed, only cars meeting Euro 5 (petrol) and Euro 6 (diesel) standards are allowed to circulate freely within this zone. If you are unsure whether your car meets these standards, most cars registered after September 2015 should meet these requirements. Drivers who own an electric or hybrid vehicle don’t have to worry either – you’re good to go, too. Although it is still a long way off, it should be borne in mind that hybrid standards are expected to be fine-tuned in 2030.

But what if you don’t own a vehicle that meets these standards? Can you still access ULEZ?

Costs and solutions

The answer to the previous question is yes. Even if you drive a car that doesn’t meet ULEZ’s strict emissions standards, you can still get around the area. However, this will incur some costs.

For most vehicles (motorcycles, cars and vans up to 3.5 tonnes) the daily rate for moving within the zone is £ 12.50. If you don’t pay the fees, you could be fined £ 160. However, there are temporary exceptions. Cities in Scotland will witness the deployment of ULEZs from February 2022 and will experience a first ‘grace period’ for vehicles. Until 2023, as zones become active, drivers will not be charged.

However, if you live closer to cities where ULEZ has been around for a while (e.g. London), you might want to consider some solutions to avoid the fees.

Such costs, if incurred on a regular basis, can become financially draining in the long run.

One of the goals of using ULEZs is to encourage people to switch to greener cars. Why not protect your environment by choosing a vehicle that meets ULEZ antipollution standards? It’s fair to say that there are a lot of cars to choose from.

You can also consider parking your car outside of ULEZ and making the most of public transport. On a clear, sunny day, you might even enjoy a bike ride or a walk instead. It will save you money and provide you with very important physical exercise.

What do the British think of this?

As with everything, the introduction of ULEZs to cities across the UK has elicited mixed reactions. It’s fair to say that not everyone has supported the program from the start. Indeed, some owners of “unsuitable cars” met the introduction of access fees with a lack of enthusiasm.

Nonetheless, it certainly gave rise to thoughts and reflections. According to a survey by Bikesure, the ULEZs have significantly accelerated people’s intentions to buy an electric car in the near future. Indeed, 73.4% of those questioned confirmed having been motivated to switch to an electric vehicle at some point.

Plus, Londoners seem to agree that ULEZs are a good idea overall. Despite some financial inconvenience and its impact on their lives, 77.4% of respondents agree that this introduction is for the best. Ultimately, ULEZs will play an important role in securing a healthier and greener future for ourselves and our planet.

All opinions expressed in this article are those of Volvo Motorparks.

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