On 5 July 2016 the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, announced the launch of a consultation on a number of proposed measures aimed at addressing air quality and pollution in the capital. The consultation requests input on what will be a stepped progressive strategy. The UK is presently in breach of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) limits and a second judicial review challenge in the UK against the UK Government is ongoing in respect of compliance with requirements of the Air Quality Directive 2008. With London exceeding existing NO2 limits, the consultation sets out a number of initiatives.  This summary focuses on emissions charging aspects.  The proposals are accessible here together with an online survey.


The proposals include:- 

  • bringing forward the implementation of the central London Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) by one year to 2019 and expanding the ULEZ beyond central London in 2020
  • introducing a new Emissions Surcharge from 2017 for the most polluting vehicles entering central London
  • considering a diesel scrappage scheme and a boiler replacement scheme
  • informing and alerting people when pollution is at its worst to inform travel decisions
  • requiring TfL to clean up its bus fleet and buy only hybrid or zero emission double-decker buses from 2018

Measures associated with emissions charging


The Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), presently due to come into effect in September 2020, is an area within which all cars, motorcycles, vans, buses, coaches and heavy good vehicles will need to meet exhaust emission standards or pay a daily charge to travel. Some vehicles are exempt from the charge. The ULEZ will operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week within the current Congestion Charging Zone.

Click here to view image.

On the map below the yellow area is the ULEZ. Views are sought on whether the ULEZ should be extended to the North/South Circular roads (red area), or current Low Emission Zone for heavy vehicles (green area).

Click here to view image.

Proposed Emissions Surcharge

From 2017 in addition to the Congestion Charge and any Low Emission Charges, it is proposed to apply a daily “Emissions Surcharge” (ES) of £10 to the most polluting vehicles entering Central London. It is suggested that it would operate as an interim measure ahead of the ULEZ in the same zone and operate at the same times as the Congestion Charge (7am– 6pm, Monday-Friday). Views are invited on the vehicles to which the ES would apply; at present pre-Euro 4 standard vehicles (most vehicles first registered with the DVLA before January 2005 including cars, vans, minibuses, heavy goods vehicles, buses and coaches) are in range. Most exemptions and discounts that apply to the Congestion Charge would also apply. More detailed consultation will be launched in the Autumn.

Of course London is not the only UK city which has significant air quality issues. Others including Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Cardiff and Edinburgh have material issues. And further afield there are several large European and Asian cities with emissions problems. It will be interesting to see what measures these UK and overseas cities may consider taking.

Drawings courtesy of http://talklondon.london.gov.uk/homes-spaces/environment/discussions/expanding-ultra-low-emission-zone