The Mayor of London launched the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in central London today (8 April 2019).

The ULEZ is central to the Mayor’s plans to improve the health of Londoners by cleaning up the city’s toxic air, which leads to the early deaths of thousands of Londoners every year.

Most vehicles driving in the ULEZ will need to meet new, tighter emission standards or pay a daily charge to travel within the area. The ULEZ will operate in the same area as the current Congestion Charge Zone and will be in effect 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, all year round.

Vans, lorries, coaches, buses, cars, motorbikes and all other vehicles will need to meet the new, stricter emission standards, or pay the daily ULEZ charge. This is in addition to the weekday Congestion Charge. It will replace the T-Charge (officially known as the Emissions Surcharge) which was introduced in October 2017. Some drivers and vehicles do qualify for a temporary discount or full exemption from the ULEZ charge.

The ULEZ is part of a package of hard-hitting measures that the Mayor is putting in place to tackle the public health crisis created by London’s air pollution.

Thousands of Londoners die prematurely each year because of long-term exposure to air pollution, while over 400 schools in the capital are in areas exceeding legal air quality levels. And every Londoner in the capital lives in an area exceeding World Health Organization guidelines for the most dangerous toxic particles.

Around half of emissions from road transport are nitrogen oxides (NOx), which contribute to illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and particulate matter (PM).

The ULEZ will help reduce these emissions, to protect children from lung damage, reduce the risk of breathing illnesses and heart disease in adults, and improve the health of people exposed to the highest levels of pollution.

The Mayor is bringing forward the start date of the central London Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) from 2020 to 2019 and has confirmed that ULEZ will expand up to the North and South Circular roads from 25 October 2021.

More than 18,000 Londoners responded to the Mayor’s public consultation on ULEZ, with nearly 60 per cent (11,041) strongly supporting the principle of ULEZ, and 63 per cent (11,383) supporting or strongly supporting earlier implementation.

The ULEZ is one of the many actions the Mayor is taking to clean up London’s air. It follows wide-ranging action the Mayor has already taken on tackling the most polluting cars and cleaning up London’s bus and taxi fleet. This includes:

  • ensuring all new double-decker buses are hybrid, hydrogen or electric from 2018
  • bringing in 12 low emission bus zones in some of London’s worst polluted ‘hotspots’ by the end of 2019
  • upgrading 5,000 older buses to be ultra low emission by October 2020

The Mayor recognises that some motorists will need help switching to greener transport options, which is why he is also urging government to deliver a vehicle renewal fund to offer drivers a fair deal. This is especially important for the many diesel drivers who bought vehicles on the understanding that they were more environmentally friendly, based on government advice.

The ULEZ is expected to:

  • contribute to improved air quality for millions of people in London
  • reduce exhaust NOx emissions by up to 45 per cent

These effects will be especially beneficial to children and young people, older people, those with respiratory problems, and residents of high pollution areas.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said:

“This is a landmark day for our city. Our toxic air is an invisible killer responsible for one of the biggest national health emergencies of our generation. I simply refuse to be yet another politician who ignores it. The ULEZ is the centrepiece of our plans to clean up London’s air – the boldest plans of any city on the planet, and the eyes of the world are on us.

“This is also about social justice – people in the most deprived parts of London, who are least likely to own a car, suffer the worst effects of harmful air pollution. I will not stand by and watch children grow up with under-developed lungs in our city. The ULEZ is a vital step towards helping combat London’s illegal air.”

Professor Jonathan Grigg of UKHACC member organisation the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), said: 

“Air pollution can have major health implications on the developing child, with early exposure proven to increase the risk of asthma and lung infections, and these can be life-threatening. Approximately 50 per cent of air pollution comes from road transport and 45 per cent comes from diesel, so the introduction of London’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone on 8 April is extremely welcome. Coupled with this move, we need to see employers and schools encouraging and facilitating better use of public transport and active travel options like walking and cycling. London has some active travel networks which, if utilised, not only reduce air pollution but also improve family fitness which has many positive health benefits.”

Drivers can check if their vehicles meet the ULEZ emissions standards, and see which discounts, exemptions and payment options apply at