Will ULEZ Standards Change in 2021?


In the short time that London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) has been in existence, there have been a lot of changes. Ever since the scheme rolled out across the city in April 2019, the ULEZ has expanded to cover the same area as the Congestion Zone. The changes don’t stop there. 

With an additional 750 vehicle identification cameras rolling out across the city, 2021 is already gearing up to be a year of drastic change for London. 

So, how will the ULEZ standards change in 2021? Let’s take a look:

ULEZ expansion

On the 25th October 2021, the ULEZ will expand to cover the North (A406) and South (A205) Circular road boundary. The new zone will be 18 times the size of what the city’s residents have come to know. More cameras are being installed as we speak, and the stakes to upgrade your vehicle has never felt higher. 

As the ULEZ grows, it is projected that toxic NOx (Nitrous Oxides) levels will decrease by at least 30% across the city. Which in light of the alarming evidence that suggests that the levels of pollution and COVID rates are linked, the expansion couldn’t have come at a better time. 

Scrappage scheme

In a city wide attempt to reduce emissions, the TfL estimates that at least four out of five cars will be ULEZ compliant by the time the scheme expands. 

To help drivers who need extra support to meet the standards, the Mayor of London has introduced a £48m scrappage scheme. This is to meet the needs of small businesses, charities and those on a low income to afford greener forms of transport. 

For those wanting to get ahead of the LEZ (Low Emission Zone) changes in March 2021, heavy vehicle owners can receive a grant of up to £15,000 to replace or retrofit their vehicle. The first phase of the scheme has already seen 5,000 London businesses take up the offer. 

What are the emissions standards?

Currently, the ULEZ subscribes to the Euro Standards that have been in effect since 1992. The standards exist to put a limit on air-polluting NOx and PM (particulate matter) that are released through exhaust fumes. So naturally, tighter measures and restrictions are more important than ever in the world’s attempt to reduce harmful pollutants. 

Any new vehicle that is sold must adhere to the current Euro limits before going up for sale. 

With this in mind, here are the Euro/ULEZ compliant standards in a nutshell:

Euro 3

Otherwise known as the “L category,” Euro 3 came into effect for new motorcycles in 2007 – this applies to:

  • Motorcycles
  • Mopeds
  • Motorised tricycles
  • Quadricylces

Euro 4 (NOx)

This is the mandatory standard for all new petrol cars and light vans since 2005/6. Euro 4 applies to:

  • Petrol cars
  • Petrol vans
  • Petrol minibuses
  • Petrol specialist vehicles

Euro 6 (NOx and PM)

From January 2014 all new heavy duty engines for goods vehicles and buses have had to comply with the Euro 6 standard. This was soon followed by cars and light vans in September 2015 and larger vans up to and including 3.5 tonnes gross vehicle weight in September 2016. Euro 6 applies to:

  • Diesel cars
  • Diesel vans
  • Diesel minibuses
  • Diesel specialist vehicles

Euro VI (NOx and PM)

  • Lorries
  • Buses
  • Coaches
  • Specialist Heavy Vehicles

If you are unsure what category your vehicle falls under, check out our ULEZ Checker tool here. Your V5C vehicle registration document will also help identify your vehicle’s Euro emission standard.

Let’s talk about air quality

Although the ULEZ standards won’t be changing too drastically in 2021, as mentioned above, the size of the zone certainly will be. 

Improving London’s air quality is at the heart of the whole ULEZ scheme. The government have deemed the city’s pollution levels to be at a critical level that needs addressing with swift action. With proven effects of pollution on our lungs and chronic illnesses such as asthma, lung and heart disease, there is much to be done. 

Here’s what the ULEZ has achieved so far:

  • 17,400 fewer polluting cars driven through the zone 
  • 77% of vehicles driven within the ULEZ zone meet the clean emissions standards
  • Alongside Central London’s greener bus fleet, air pollution has gone down by 40%

2021 is set to see a significant drop in pollution levels throughout the city. 

Being a London resident and worker comes with many challenges. As the ULEZ is set to expand, you can stay ahead of the changes by meeting the emissions standards today.

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