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Changes to London's Low Emission Zone scheme in January 2012 could affect you
If you drive a van, minibus, horsebox, motor-caravan, utility vehicle or pick-up in the Greater London area you could be facing a daily charge of £100 from January 2012.
Your vehicle could be one of the thousands affected by changes to the rules for the London Low Emission Zone that come into force from the beginning of 2012.
The changes could double the number of vehicles affected by the scheme.
The London Low Emission Zone was introduced in 2008. The scheme covers most of Greater London and aims to improve air quality by encouraging owners to clean up exhaust emissions on the most polluting large diesel vehicles including buses, lorries and coaches.
Vehicles affected by the scheme must pay a daily charge to enter the low emissions zone unless they meet minimum exhaust emissions standards – based on official European type approval standards for particulate matter(soot).
Days run from midnight to midnight so if you go into the zone at 10pm and comes out at 2am you will be liable for two 'day charges' if your vehicle doesn't meet the required emissions standard.
Newer vehicles will meet the requirements anyway but older ones may need a filter fitted in the exhaust and certified to show compliance with the requirements.
The Low Emission Zone operates 24hrs a day, 365 days a year and is enforced by cameras – vehicle number-plates are matched to vehicle specification data (from DVLA and other sources) together with details of vehicles registered directly with the scheme.
The emissions standards that vehicles must meet and the types of vehicle affected by the scheme are changing significantly from 3 January 2012. This means that many vehicles that can be used in London at the moment without paying a LEZ daily charge will either have to start paying from 3 January 2012 or will have to be modified, certified and registered with TfL before that date.
Daily charges are very high - between £100 and £200 depending on vehicle type - so it is very important that you find out if you have a vehicle that is, or will be affected by the scheme.
Vans, minibuses, horseboxes, motorcaravans, utility vehicles and pick-ups will be included in the LEZ scheme from 3 January 2012.
(When the LEZ was introduced in 2008 TfL indicated that these smaller vehicle categories would be brought into the scheme in October 2010. This was later postponed to 2012 to give owners of affected vehicles more time to prepare.)
This is an important change because it brings into scope a number of vehicle types that might be owned and operated privately – the LEZ can no longer be thought of as just a commercial vehicle scheme.
For HGVs, buses and coaches the current requirement is that they must meet the 'Euro 3' emissions limit for particulates. TfL assumes that affected vehicle types first registered on or after 1 October 2002 will meet the Euro 3 standard. Vehicles registered earlier may need modification.
From 3 January 2012 HGVs, buses and coaches will have to meet the 'Euro 4' emissions limit for particulates. TfL assumes that affected vehicle types first registered on or after 1 October 2006 will meet the Euro 4 standard. Vehicles registered earlier may need modification.
From 3 January 2012 Vans, minibuses, horseboxes, motorcaravans, utility vehicles and pick-ups affected by the scheme will have to meet the 'Euro 3' emissions limits for particulates. TfL assumes that affected vehicle types first registered on or after 1 October 2002 will meet the Euro 3 standard. Vehicles registered earlier may need modification.
If you have a vehicle that needs modifying to meet the rules you can find details of filter suppliers/fitters here.
Ordering a filter, getting it fitted and then tested/certified is likely to take more than three months so it is important to act early rather than leave it to the end of the year.
If you hire or lease a vehicle with a view to driving in the LEZ, check with the hire company that it complies with the LEZ emission standards. Otherwise the hirer will be responsible for the charge.
Full details including how to register and how to pay if your vehicle is covered by the scheme but doesn't comply with the emissions requirements can be found on the Transport for London website.
Cameras read vehicle licence plates as you enter the Low Emission Zone. Unless your vehicle has been registered as exempt, or is shown, according to UK vehicle licencing data, to be exempt, you will be liable to pay the penalty charge.
Motorcaravans and other affected vehicles
If you own a non-GB registered vehicle that meets the required LEZ standards you should register with TFL in advance to avoid having to pay the penalty charge.
If you own a non-GB registered vehicle that does not meet the required LEZ standards you will have to avoid driving within the LEZ or pay the charge. You will have to register your vehicle details before you can pay the charge.
If you are planning to drive within the area covered by the LEZ it is important that you register your vehicle details in advance with TFL.
Even though passenger cars are not affected by the LEZ, registering your car will ensure that you are not pursued for payment of the penalty charge.
(updated 12 July 2012)