Will ULEZ extend to M25?

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Ever since the ULEZ was first introduced in April 2019, the scheme has been met with doubt, speculation and unease. As a first of its kind, ULEZ was bound to shake some feathers!

Covering the same area as the Congestion Charge, ULEZ has dominated the headlines for adding to the stress of city living. Costing an extra £12.50 daily for those wanting to travel within the area, the ULEZ can make a typical day twice as expensive. 

As the ULEZ gears up to expand, will it extend to the M25? Let’s find out!

Where does the ULEZ operate?

Currently, the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) operates throughout central London. Residents can claim a 100% discount if they live within the area up until the 24th October 2021. On the 25th October 2021, the zone will stretch up to the North (A406) and South (A205) Circular roads, and fewer discounts and exemptions will be available. 

The ULEZ effects any vehicle that doesn’t comply with the Euro emissions standards that operate throughout the zone. So anything that isn’t within Euro 3 for motorbikes, mopeds etc., Euro 4 for petrol cars and light vans and Euro VI/6 for diesel-fuelled vehicles will have to pay the daily charge. 

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Like the LEZ (Low Emission Zone), the ULEZ operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all year round except Christmas Day. 

What does the 2021 expansion look like?

After the ULEZ’s successful launch across the city, the expansion was inevitable. Air quality improved drastically within the first six months, and harmful NOx levels were noticeably decreasing across the zone. 

As you have read, the ULEZ currently covers the same area as the Congestion Zone. The new expansion will create a single larger zone 18 times the size in 2021. With 750 new vehicle identification cameras being installed throughout the city, the scheme will impact millions of people as a result. 

If your car is non-ULEZ compliant, a short trip to the supermarket, petrol station or anything else you had planned will cost you £12.50 for the pleasure. If you are parked overnight within the zone but don’t drive, you don’t have to pay the charge. 

The impact on small businesses

Ever since the ULEZ scheme was first announced, there have been concerns over how small businesses within the zone will be affected. Now as the site is set to expand, these concerns have become a daily reality for some of London’s longest-serving residents. 

ULEZ compliant cars and light vans are far easier to come by than your average heavy vehicle. Larger vehicles that bear weight or tow tend to be diesel-powered to give them enough oomph to get from A to B. Now imagine being a small business operating within the ULEZ area. It’s no longer as simple as a car upgrade. 

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Lower profit margins and significant overheads are a typical staple for a small business owner. So if you are an aggregate storage company or manufacturing plant, you are going to struggle to keep up with the daily £100 charge for your vehicle to travel within the zone. 

Unless your whole operation moves elsewhere, operating within the ULEZ certainly has its drawbacks. If you move out of the area, all you are doing is taking your air polluting machinery elsewhere. With this in mind, displacing the issue doesn’t exactly solve it! 

What does this mean for the M25?

Well, in short, the M25 doesn’t currently factor in the government’s plans. However, if you look at the impact ULEZ has already achieved – positive and negative – the zone will likely expand later down the line. 

The evidence speaks for itself. Central London for years has been described as the “grey smoke” city, and when you look at the reasons why it becomes obvious why the ULEZ was introduced in the first place. 

London has always thrived in the western world and has often found itself at the forefront of scientific and technological discoveries. With it comes a massive workforce and an incredible amount of transport to keep the operation going. 

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As a result, around half of London’s NOx (nitrogen oxides) emissions come from transport. They equate to illegal levels of NO2 (nitrogen dioxide) and PM (particulate matter) which all contribute to poor health conditions around the city. Chronic illnesses are made worse, life expectancy is reduced, and lung development faces further damage from the fumes. 

Poor air quality fundamentally affects the vulnerable the most. With this in mind, it’s worth knowing that over 360 primary schools are within the affected zone. 

Understanding the ULEZ has never been more critical than now. With the city’s most vulnerable at risk, would it really hurt to expand the zone to the M25?

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