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Half a million city drivers to be priced off road this year

As many as 500,000 motorists in London and Birmingham could be forced to quit driving in 2021 due to clean air zones

Emissions - clean air zones

Half a million drivers in London and Birmingham could be priced off the road this year as a result of clean air zone charges.

On 8 October 2021, the London ULEZ (ultra-low emission zone) - which currently covers the same area of central London as the Congestion Charge zone - will expand to cover the whole of London within the North and South Circular roads.

This means owners of pre-Euro 4 petrol or pre-Euro 6 diesel cars living in London will be required to pay £12.50 every day they wish to use the road.

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Meanwhile, Birmingham’s clean air zone comes into force on 1 June 2021. Again, anyone with a pre-Euro 4 petrol or pre-Euro 6 diesel car will have to cough up a daily fee of £8 to drive within the limits of the A4540 Middleway Ring Road.

The AA says London’s ANPR (automatic number plate recognition) cameras have picked up a ULEZ non-compliance rate of 16 per cent among petrol vehicles and 42 per cent among diesels.

In 2019, inner London had a car population of 194,200 diesels and 513,600 petrols, with 163,700 likely to be non-compliant. Add in the 91,200 non-compliant cars in boroughs that will find large numbers of their roads within the ULEZ in October, plus the thousands on other affected roads, and the number of non-compliant cars in London is expected to be between 250,000 and 300,000.

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Mayor of London Sadiq Khan also said in 2018 that “100,000 cars, 35,000 vans and 3,000 lorries might be affected by the expanded zone and tighter standards every day”. The majority are likely to come from the 1.952 million cars owned by residents of outer London and the tens of thousands commuting in each day from outside the capital.

Take into account a further 100,000 cars affected by the Birmingham clean air zone, and the AA calculates up to half a million drivers will either have to pay a daily fee or give up driving in their home cities.

Edmund King, president of the AA, said: “Later this year, millions of drivers in London will find themselves on the wrong side of the road when the ULEZ scheme is expanded. There is a very real risk that many people who rely on their car for essential journeys will be priced off the road.”

Speaking to Auto Express, under secretary of state for transport, Rachel Maclean, said clean air zones were there to “protect public health”, but added that local authorities should be consulting on them in advance and using Government funding to help people upgrade to cleaner vehicles. She added that there would be “exemptions for people who live locally or work in the NHS”.

Found out how WLTP emissions are calculated and how they affect you...

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