What are ULEZ's and how do they affect you?

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Reading the title you may already know what this article is about or ULEZ may look like a collection of sharp letters that have been put together to entice you to read this article.

As you may know, London became the first global capital city to put in place a 24-hour low emission zone in April 2019, forcing older more polluting vehicles to pay a large fine to drive in these areas. Since then the pressure has been on other cities across Britain to follow suit and in November 2019 Bristol became the first city in Britain to approve a ban on diesel cars from 2021. While the city centre of Leeds is now a CAZ (clean air zone) since the 6th of January 2020.

ULEZ (Ultra Low Emission Zone)

ULEZ stands for ultra-low emission zone, which is becoming more and more commonplace around Europe’s large cities. But how does that affect us? Well recently more and more large cities around the UK are being urged to reduce the NO2 emissions (Nitrogen Dioxide)  as the link between polluted air and cardiovascular and respiratory diseases becomes ever clearer. 

CAZ (Clean Air Zone)

CAZ’s or Clean Air Zones aim to clean up the air by specifically targeting vehicles with poor fuel consumption and harmful emissions in order to improve air quality. Fortunately for those of us driving through a clean air zone, there are two types that you need to be wary of a charged and a non-charged area. Charging zones are as the name implies, apply a fee to any vehicle passing through that does not meet the minimum emission standards (Euro 4). Whereas, non-charging areas will not impose a fee on vehicles but instead rely on other methods to improve air quality like for example improvements on public transport routes and cycle lanes.

LEZ (Low Emission Zone)

LEZ’s or Low emission zones are similar to the two other zones however LEZ’s focus on encouraging heavy diesel vehicles driving in London to become cleaner, which is enforced in most of greater London 24/7. However, London’s LEZ are looking to enforce much stricter regulations following the 26th of October 2020 stating that all HGV driving through and in London would face a daily charge of £100 unless they meet Euro 6 regulations. For more information look at TFL gov.
https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/driving/low-emission-zone/changes-to-the-lez
Vans, Minibuses and specialist diesel vehicles, however, are safe from any changes if the vehicle falls on Euro 3 or below then the LEZ charge applies, while any petrol fulled vehicle Euro 4 and above are exempt. 

So if I pay the LEZ/ULEZ/CAZ charge am I exempt from the congestion charge?

In short no, the while they all work towards making London more environmentally friendly they achieve  in different ways, the congestion charge looks to encourage vehicles to not travel through London regardless of the emissions they release. Where as, CAZ, LAZ and ULEZ's specifically target cars that do not meet the regulations required aiming to improve the quality of the air in the area it is in effect. Meaning that you can find yourself shelling out a hefty sum if you fail to meet both the requirements for each category. 

What does this mean for you?

London, Birmingham, Leeds, Southampton, Nottingham and Derby are all looking to introduce or have introduced CAZ’s in the coming years, while each city will have different charges for vehicles, area zones will differ depending on the city and the times which they operate may vary the vehicle requisites are uniform. 


As of the 8th of April 2019 driving through Zone 1 and 2 in London in a petrol-fueled car registered after January 2006 or a car which complies with Euro 4-6 regulations are exempt from any ULEZ charges.

Diesel cars, however, face much harsher regulations with drivers needing their vehicles to comply with Euro 6 emissions restrictions and fuel consumption to be exempt from charges when driven in these zones. A charge that could affect 9.5 million out of 12.9 million cars.



What are the regulations for Euro 4, 5 and 6?

Established in 1992, European Union regulations have been applied to any new car produced, in the interest of improving air quality in the continent.
Euro 6 and Euro 6 diesel


Implementation September 2015


The main focus of Euro 6 was to cut down on harmful nitrogen dioxide levels that have been connected to respiratory problems and cardiovascular issues. This goal resulted in harsh restrictions being placed on diesel cars cutting the previous 0.18g/Km as stated in Euro 5 to 0.08g.Km. This reduction brings diesel pollution levels on par to a petrol-fuelled car that met Euro 4’s regulations that were issued 9 years prior to these!

Euro 5

January 2011

Euro 5’s key restriction was the introduction of particle filters (DPFs) for diesel-fuelled vehicles. These filters collect roughly 99% of all particle matter and are required to be fitted to every diesel car.

Euro 4


January 2006

Euro 4 is the lowest regulation that needs to be met by petrol drivers in order to avoid facing charges from CAZ and LEZ’s if you are in petrol-fuelled vehicles. 

How much can I be charged?


Private car, van, motorcycle and taxi owners rejoice as cities implementing these clean air and emission charges are charging at most £12.50 a day for vehicles who do not meet emission requirements for the specific city. While this charge may seem light or excessive to some it is relatively light when compared to the £100 charge applied to busses and HGV’s travelling through cities like London and Bath. These are the most expensive instances, with Leeds and Birmingham charging £50 and Sheffield charging £30.

Despite these charges being handled by the councils the money received goes towards covering the costs of enforcement, the maintenance and placement of cameras. In addition to the systems which recognise license plates and cross-references this against the car registered to that plate ensuring that the vehicle meets the emission restriction of that area much like the congestion charge.


Aside from Changing my Vehicle what can I do to lower your emissions?

  1. Using Premium Fuel

    When purchasing premium, super or ultimate fuels what do you get with the extra you spend? The answer is that these options contain active cleaning agents which can remove dirt from your engine, improving efficiency and decreasing emissions. This will also reduce the amount of harmful deposits in your cars engine, exhaust and fuel cleaner.

  2. Check and Change your Air filter

    Much like us, engines need air to operate efficiently, with a clogged filter your engine can’t breathe properly causing a build-up in deposits which can result in premature wear and tear. However, this also can be affected by dusty areas.

  3.  Change your engine oil

    Engine oil is the aid to many of your cars key features, lubricating, cleaning, colling and preventing wear. The check oil light is something even non-drivers will be familiar with as its often the root cause of any issue, from real life to sitcom.

  4. Air Conditioning

    It’s impossible to resist cranking the heating up or down depending on the weather, especially in those cold winter mornings or boiling summer afternoons. But as you can expect as you change the temperature inside your car is also makes your engine work harder increasing fuel consumption and emissions.

  5. Check your tyre pressure

    It’s one thing I always make a note to check more regularly, low tyre pressure leads to an increase in fuel consumption, a 20% decrease in inflation leads directly to a 20% increase in fuel consumption.
    A difference in inflation can be as much as 0.5 litres of fuel per 100km.

  6. Reduce time spent idling

    We all hate getting into a cold car first thing in the morning or are familiar with leaving the engine on when we dash into the house for just a minute. However, these practises create a lot of unintentional pollution.
    Despite popular belief switching your engine off wastes less fuel than leaving it idling for 10 seconds.
    Cut down on the amount of emissions you create by warming your car up on the go when safe to do so, and if your car comes with a stop/start system make sure its turned on.

      7. Change your driving style

You know that phrase “many small strokes fall even great oaks”, the same phrase can be applied to your emissions released when driving.
By effectively changing gears and avoiding ramping up revs, resisting the satisfaction of listening to your car engines roar, braking sooner and slowing down calmly can reduce wear and tear on your car and maintain your vehicle's efficiency for longer.
Theo your smart in-car companion can track your driving history, and give you scores every 100 miles that take into account your braking, speeding and consistency of how you drive allowing you to better manage your driving and get rewarded in the process. Help the environment, help your wallet and help your car with theo. 

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