You don’t need an electric vehicle to comply with ULEZ

25 August 2023
What was claimed

Drivers of non-electric vehicles will be fined £12 every time they drive past a ULEZ camera.

Our verdict

False. Most petrol and diesel vehicles already comply with ULEZ standards. For those that do not, a £12.50 daily charge is levied.

A viral post on Twitter (currently rebranding as X), which has also been posted multiple times on Facebook, makes a number of incorrect claims about London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ).

The ULEZ is an area in London where owners of vehicles which don’t match specific emissions standards must pay to drive. The zone currently covers all areas within the city’s North and South Circular Roads, but is set to be expanded to cover the entire Greater London area from 29 August 2023.

The post says: “UK citizens are furious Sadiq Khan is installing ULEZ (Ultra low emission zones) recognition cameras throughout London. Those who can’t afford electric vehicles will be fined £12 pounds ($15) every time they drive past them. Citizens are fighting back by taking them down as soon as they’re installed.”

Posts like this can spread quickly online and affect a person’s understanding of how ULEZ is being implemented. False claims about which vehicles are compliant are likely to cause unnecessary worry and may harm public debate about such schemes. 

It is important to check whether information is clear and accurate before sharing it online.

We have previously fact checked misleading claims about the political process behind the expansion of ULEZ,whether exemptions exist for visits to houses of worship and inaccurate suggestions that no public consultation on the scheme ever took place.

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Emissions standards

Fully electric vehicles do not produce any emissions and are therefore wholly exempt from ULEZ charges. 

However, most petrol cars registered since 2005, light vans registered since 2006 and motorcycles registered since 2007 have engines that produce levels of emissions that are low enough to enable them to comply with ULEZ. Diesel cars registered after September 2015 are also fully compliant, as are diesel vans sold after September 2016. 

According to figures released by Transport for London (TfL), as of March 2023, more than 90% of vehicles seen driving in outer London on an average day meet the ULEZ standard. However, the RAC has warned that drivers of nearly 700,000 cars in greater London could be liable to pay the charge once the zone expands

Penalty charges

The post claims that drivers with non-compliant vehicles will be “fined” £12 each time they drive past a ULEZ camera. This is incorrect. Non-compliant vehicles entering the ULEZ zone are required to pay a charge of £12.50 per day. This charge remains the same regardless of how many times a vehicle enters the zone or what distance is driven. 

Failure to pay the charge can lead to a fixed penalty charge notice (PCN) being issued. The penalty charge is £180 but this is reduced to £90 if the outstanding amount is paid within 14 days. 

A spokesperson for TfL told Full Fact: “To be clear, people who drive a non-compliant vehicle within the ULEZ must pay a £12.50 driving charge per day. Drivers can check whether their vehicle is non-compliant, view maps of the ULEZ and pay the charge here.

“Most petrol vehicles under 16 years old or diesel vehicles under 6 years old already meet the emissions standards.”

Vandalised cameras

Some versions of the posts contain video clips showing a masked member of the public apparently removing ULEZ cameras from their mounts. We have not verified the contents of these videos. 

As of 1 August the Metropolitan Police Service had recorded 288 crimes relating to ULEZ cameras, including 185 reports of cables being damaged, 164 cameras being stolen and 38 reports of cameras being obscured. In some cases, multiple offences have been linked to a single camera, such as a cable being damaged and the device subsequently stolen. 

A spokesperson for TfL said there are currently 1,900 ULEZ cameras in place in outer London with a further 850 due to be installed. 

The spokesperson added: “Vandalism on our network is unacceptable and all incidents are reported to the police for investigation. We have increased the security of the ULEZ cameras following further incidents of vandalism and theft. The Met has been clear that this is vandalism of government property and is a criminal offence which could lead to prosecution." 

Image courtesy of Chuttersnap

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