Everything you need to know about the 2023 ULEZ expansion

Everything you need to know about the 2023 ULEZ expansion

London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) expanded on 29 August 2023. Our guide explains everything you need to know about it.

Phill Tromans Cazoo

By Phill Tromans

Updated: 29 August 2023

The Ultra Low Emission Zone, or ULEZ, is an area of London where you have to pay a fee if you drive a vehicle that doesn’t meet certain emissions standards. It was introduced in 2019 with the aim of improving local air quality and is active 24 hours a day, every day, except Christmas Day. The ULEZ expanded on 29 August 2023 to include all of Greater London.

You can read more about what ULEZ is and which cars are ULEZ-compliant in our related article, but here we’ll focus on what  you need to know about the expansion plans.

What is the ULEZ expansion?

The ULEZ expansion, on 29 August 2023, widened the area it covers. The scheme is managed by Transport for London, the local government body responsible for the majority of the capital’s transportation network. The expansion plan was announced in March 2022 by the Mayor Sadiq Khan.

If you drive a non-compliant vehicle within the ULEZ area – whether you live there or are just visiting – you’ll be charged  £12.50 per day. There’s no daily charge for parked cars, but even the shortest journey incurs the charge.

If you drive a ULEZ-compliant car there’s nothing to pay.

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Where is the ULEZ expanding to in 2023?

The expanded ULEZ covers all of Greater London – that’s all of its 33 boroughs. It means that most (but not all) of the area within the M25 will be covered, with the zone reaching the borders of Buckinghamshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent and Surrey. You can see how much it has grown in this map on the Transport for London website.

Is Heathrow Airport in the ULEZ?

In a word, yes. Heathrow Airport is covered by the ULEZ expansion, meaning vehicles entering the airport must be ULEZ-compliant or pay a £12.50-per-day fee to enter the zone. 

If you drive to the airport and park it for a week-long trip away you’d only pay for two days of ULEZ fees because you’d only drive through it when you arrive and when you leave.

Is the M25 be in the ULEZ?

No. The M25 is not be covered by the ULEZ expansion, most of which stops short of the motorway. The M25 marks the boundary of the zone at Enfield and Noak Hill, and although the zone does go slightly past the motorway at North Ockendon, the motorway itself is not subject to ULEZ charges.

Is it certain that the ULEZ expansion is going ahead?

Yes, the expansion went ahead as planned. Although there was a legal challenge to the ULEZ expansion, the High Court ruled in July 2023 that the move was lawful, which cleared any barriers to its implementation.

The legal action followed strong opposition to the ULEZ expansion. Many people were unhappy at the process by which the expansion was implemented. Five Conservative-led councils went to the High Court to challenge the expansion, but their objections were unsuccessful.

When was the previous ULEZ expansion?

The ULEZ was expanded  in October 2021, widening from central London to the North and South Circular roads – an area roughly 18 times larger than the previous boundary.

What is the ULEZ expansion scrappage scheme?

The ULEZ expansion scrappage scheme is a £160m project designed to support car owners and businesses that will be affected by the changes. The scheme was originally open to Londoners receiving certain benefits, as well as all small businesses, but it has now been opened to all Londoners. Those eligible are able to claim grants towards the cost of replacing their current vehicles with ULEZ-compliant models.

Charities, sole traders and businesses with 10 or fewer employees – registered in London – can scrap an old vehicle and claim up to £9,500, depending on the vehicle type. Residents can claim a maximum of £2,000.

After the expansion, the scrappage scheme is now open to businesses with fewer than 50 employees. There will also be a range of offers related to car/van clubs, vehicle rental and vehicle finance as well as bicycle and e-scooter hire or purchase.

You can read our detailed guide to the ULEZ scrappage scheme here.

How much will the ULEZ expansion cost?

Transport for London said in mid-2022 that the expansion would cost around £200m, excluding the cost of the scrappage scheme. The main costs are in signage, detection and enforcement infrastructure and systems, marketing, project overheads and risk. In comparison, the 2021 expansion cost £115m, according to the mayor of London’s office.

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