ULEZ comes into force

London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) has come into force, leaving penalty-free access to the centre of London the preserve of petrol cars with minimum Euro 4 standard, diesels with the Euro 6 standard and historic motor vehicles.

However, despite general approval of the measures, there is still confusion over the exact nature of the regulations. In a survey of 2,000 adults across the UK by Nissan, only 1 in 3 was aware of the ULEZ going live on 8 April, yet almost half of all respondents support the daily charge’s introduction. Confusion over whether one must pay the charge or not was high, with 75 per cent of those surveyed having no idea what the Euro emission standard rating is for their current vehicle – the criteria that dictates their eligibility to pay the ULEZ charge or be exempt.

Even non-Londoners were in favour of ULEZ, with 35 per cent saying they thought their nearest city would benefit from the introduction of a ULEZ charge. In addition, 31 per cent said it would change how much they drove and 27 per cent said it would make them more likely to adopt an electric vehicle as a result.
The move to reduce air pollution in the capital also leaves some technical issues to be resolved – with Allow Independent Road-Testing (AIR) noting that the Euro6 standards, in particular, have variances and bear “little resemblance” to what comes out of a car’s exhaust pipe in urban driving.

When a 2017 Renault Clio 1.5 litre dCi diesel was tested and rated in the AIR Index, it emerged that the supermini emitted 20 times more NOx in urban driving than a 2018 Land Rover Discovery 3.0 litre TD6 diesel, yet both fall under the category of ‘Euro 6’.

AIR Index co-founder, Nick Molden notes: “The fundamental issue we have with ULEZ access being based upon Euro standards alone, is that is not an efficient or fair way to address the problem of urban NOx emissions from vehicles, since over-emitting newer Euro 6 cars will be allowed in, yet older lower-emitting Euro 5 cars will attract penalty fines.”

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