London city streets near Big Ben and Parliament.
London city streets near Big Ben and Parliament.
Left Column

London to impose new daily charges on polluting vehicles to fight air pollution

In 2019, London mayor Sadiq Khan imposed a fee on drivers of “most polluting cars” in order to drive in the city. Learn more.

Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, announced in April 2019 that drivers of the ‘most polluting cars’ would have to begin paying a fee to drive in the city.

The fee affects all diesel cars more than 4 years old and gasoline-powered cars more than 13 years old. Roughly 150,000 car owners will be affected by the new law, required to pay a daily fee or switch to more environmentally friendly vehicles.1

How do these fees work?

The fee ranges from £3 - £12.50 a day, depending on the age and classification of the vehicle. 

This fee is added to existing congestion charges, but will replace the previous toxicity charge, under which pre-2006 diesel and petrol vehicle drivers were required to pay £10 pounds when entering London during peak times.

These ultra-low emissions zone (ULEZ), areas in which these rules are imposed, currently cover central London and will later expand to cover surrounding municipalities.

Additionally, ride-sharing services like Uber are not spared – they’re also set face the fee. Uber previously announced before the fees were imposed that it planned to expand its fleet of electric cars to combat London's air pollution. 

Currently, Uber has over 100 electric Nissan Leaf cars in London and is regularly adding to its inventory.2

Why did London impose these polluting vehicle fees?

The announcement came just days after research by the Guardian and Greenpeace showed alarming levels of air pollution across the UK.3 

The research found that more than 2,000 schools and nurseries located near roads exceed the legal EU limit of nitrogen dioxide pollution of 40 microns per cubic meter (µg/m3), exposing 47,000 babies and children to unhealthy amounts of air pollution.

What does this mean for UK air quality?

And air pollution does not only concern London, but is a national problem affecting all of the UK. Birmingham, located in the UK’s West Midlands region, is shown to be one of the most hazardous areas for nitrogen dioxide, second only to London.4

London’s mayor Khan has made cleaner air for London a clear priority, claiming that air pollution takes 9,000 lives in London every year. This latest move follows Khan’s announcement last year to make London’s Oxford Street a vehicle-free pedestrian zone.

Article Resources

[1] Crerar P. (2017, April 4). Sadiq Khan plans world’s first ultra-low emissions zone with new daily charges for swathes of London. https://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/sadiq-khan-plans-world-s-first-ultralow-emissions-zone-with-new-daily-charges-for-swathes-of-london-a3506561.html

[2] Brian M. (2017, March 28). Uber is building its own EV charging network in London. https://www.engadget.com/2017/03/28/uber-nissan-leaf-ev-london/

[3] Dowler C, et al. (2018, April 3). More than 1,000 nurseries nationwide close to illegally polluted roads. https://energydesk.greenpeace.org/2017/04/04/air-pollution-nurseries/

[4] Laville S. (2019, July 8). Air pollution in Birmingham ‘shortens lives of children by half a year’. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jul/08/air-pollution-in-birmingham-shortens-lives-of-children-by-half-a-year

Right Column