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There has been talk of an Ultra-Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) being set up in London for some time now. It appears that our fair City of London isn’t actually that fair; with our capital failing to meet the EU air pollution directive.

Why the new scheme?

The new directive is set to be introduced in 2020 and is aiming to be the world’s first Ultra-Low Emission Zone. The initiative is aiming specifically towards Euro 6 emission standards with a particular focus on reducing emissions of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) – a by-product of diesel engines and the reason London failed the EU air pollution directive.

Boris Johnson is planning to charge diesel vehicles more to enter the centre of the city if vehicles don’t meet the Euro 6 emissions standard.

This will be mandatory for all types of approved vehicles from September 2015 and specifically targets Nitrogen dioxide emissions, requiring more than a 50 % reduction in these emissions over the current euro 5.

How much will it cost?

As for how much vehicles failing to meet the Euro 6 standard will be charged, a spokesperson for the Mayor of London has said that "precise charges that will apply are still subject to consultation.” – Which is helpful.

The spokesperson also added, “The ULEZ will apply to all vehicles. Standards are tailored to the specific types of vehicle – so buses must be at least hybrid, HGVs will have to be Euro 6 as they are all diesel, vans and cars will have to be Euro 6 if diesel and Euro 4 if petrol.”

So the new directive is not aimed solely towards diesel vehicles but certain petrol vehicles are also liable for a fine if they do not meet the Euro 4 petrol standard.

Where?

The new Ultra-Low Emissions Zone will use the existing Congestion Zone boundary – Pentonville Road, Finsbury in the North to Kennington Lane in the South then from Commercial Road in Spitalfields over to Marylebone Road when ranging from East to West.

It is estimated that more than 619,000 vans enter that boundary each year and there are currently two proposals for the ULEZ operating hours; similarly, these will follow Congestion Charge times, which are: Monday to Friday, 7am until 6pm or the Low Emission zone times which are 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Is my vehicle affected?

The Euro 6 European exhaust emission regulations came into effect on 1st September 2014 and all new trucks and buses registered from 1st January 2014 will need to be fitted with a Euro 6 certified engine – these engines will help to see a significant reduction in tail-pipe emissions.

While this all sounds great for the environment it is slightly confusing; “Is my van Euro 6 compliant or is it not?” is the question that we hear. Luckily there is a simple tool on the Transport for London (TfL) website that can let you know if your vehicle is affected and you’ll need to pay those charges that you can find here: Low Emission Zone - Affected Vehicles.

While we don’t necessarily want to toot our own horn we are aware of one way that can help you mitigate the expense of driving in London - and that is saving on your van insurance.