London’s ULEZ was introduced in April 2019 by London’s Mayor as part of his plans to purify the air within the capitol and protect citizens from the harm caused by impurities.

The ULEZ was established after increasing evidence became available to suggest levels of air pollution within London far exceeded safe (and even legal) levels. 

With broad evidence to suggest that these dangerous levels of air pollution (particularly Nitrogen Dioxide and Air particulates) were putting Londoners at risk of significant harm, action needed to be taken. 

And so, the mayor planned to zone the capitol into areas where charges would be applied to vehicles that produced the bulk of these poisonous emissions.

Top tip: Check out the ULEZ map.

And that, in a nutshell, is what ULEZ is. 

ULEZ stands for: 

Ultra Low Emission Zone 

Put simply, ULEZ is an area of central London where charges are applied to vehicles that are deemed to contribute to the dangerous levels of toxins in the air. 

Charges vary from vehicle to vehicle and are applied in a similar fashion to congestion charges. 

There are also penalty charges for vehicles travelling within the Ultra Low Emission Zone where charges apply and haven’t been paid. 

Whilst it’s easy to be cynical and see this only as a means of revenue collection, the evidence that ULEZ positively impacts both health and environmental factors is overwhelming. 

The revenue collection from ULEZ is only one factor in the bigger picture. 

Who created the ULEZ? 

As Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan was responsible for driving the implementation of ULEZ. 

ULEZ came into effect as part of an extensive package of measures designed to reduce and mitigate the damage caused to London’s public health (and the environment) by the dangerous levels of toxins dispersed into London’s atmosphere. 

The increasing rise in deaths and medical complications linked to the respiratory system within central London were the imperative behind ULEZ’s formation. 

Writing in the London Evening Standard In April 19, Khan said, 

“Filthy air leads to thousands of premature deaths every year. It causes diabetes, dementia, strokes, heart disease and cancer. It is a major cause of asthma for millions of people, including myself. It puts four Londoners in hospital every day — one of whom will be a child.”

What’s the background for ULEZ? 

ULEZ was born out of many measures implemented gradually to reduce the number of deaths related to toxins across the nation’s capital. 

These measures started as congestion charges to free up the flow of traffic. As the measures increased over the years, they also became more refined. The Low Emission Zone (or, LEZ) was formed to bring in charges for vehicles emitting toxins above a predetermined level. 

Following this, it was determined that even stricter regulations were required within the heart of London. Tolerable emission levels were decided on based on the amassing scientific evidence and the ULEZ was created to match these levels. 

The ULEZ exists to save lives and reduce harmful emissions. The hope is that London will become a cleaner, healthier and greener capital, leading the way across the globe in high standards. In addition to ensuring the capitol’s safety and prosperity, ULEZ contributes significantly to London’s booming economy. 


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