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What is the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) and what will it mean for disabled motorists or Motability Scheme vehicles?

The ULEZ is an area of central London within which all cars, motorcycles, vans, minibuses, buses, coaches and heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) will need to meet exhaust emission standards (ULEZ standards) or pay a daily charge to travel, to help improve air quality.

The ULEZ will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week within the same area as the current Congestion Charging Zone (CCZ). The start date for the ULEZ is planned for April 2019. From 25 October 2021, the ULEZ area will be expanded to include the inner London area bounded by the North and South Circular Roads.

Why is the ULEZ needed?

It is estimated that the equivalent of 9,400 premature deaths occur each year in London due to illnesses caused by long-term exposure to air pollution and 448 schools in London are in areas exceeding legal air quality levels. Diesel vehicles are recognised as a major contributor to pollution and associated health impacts in London.

How can I find out if my vehicle meets the ULEZ standards?

The currently agreed ULEZ standards is that they will need to be Euro 6 Compliant for diesel engines (registered from September 1, 2015 so four years old or less in 2019) and Euro 4 compliant for petrol engines (registered from January 1, 2005 so 14 years old or less in 2019). Non-compliant vehicles could still drive in the zone but they will be required to pay a daily charge of £12.50.

Large vans, small vans and minibuses to be Euro 6 compliant for diesel engines (registered from September 1, 2016 so three years old or less in 2019) and Euro 4 compliant for petrol engines (registered from January 1, 2006 so 13 years old or less in 2019). Non-compliant vehicles will be required to pay a daily charge of £12.50.

The simplest way to check your vehicle is by visiting the Transport for London (TFL) website.

Will the ULEZ affect Motability Scheme vehicles?

Standard cars leased for three years

Overall it is very unlikely that Scheme customers would be affected by the ULEZ. This is because most Motability Scheme cars are brand new vehicles leased for three years, so these, whether they are diesel or petrol vehicles, are already compliant.

WAVs and cars with extensive adaptations or low mileage

Wheelchairs Accessible Vehicle (WAV) customers who lease their vehicle for five years or more and car customers with certain adaptations fitted to the car or with a very low mileage at the end of the lease can opt to extend their lease to five or even seven years. These customers will also be unaffected. This is because vehicles that have a ‘disabled’ or ‘disabled passenger vehicle’ tax class (‘disabled exemption’) will be granted a three-year sunset period with a 100% discount, up until 26 October 2025.

This means that a diesel vehicle purchased prior to 1 September 2015 will still be exempt from the charge until 2025. Therefore, a vehicle leased in 2014 with a seven year lease would not have to pay the ULEZ charge because of the sunset period extension.

Overall it seems that because most Motability Scheme vehicles are less than seven years old it is very unlikely that many customers will be affected by the ULEZ.

Read the eligibility criteria for the disabled exemption on Gov.uk.

Cars which do not have VED exemption

Scheme customers who are using their tax exemption on another vehicle or have left the Scheme and purchased their ex-Motability Scheme vehicle should be aware that if the car does not use a VED exemption, they will have to pay the ULEZ if their vehicle is not compliant. If they are VED exempt it will not apply until 2025.

Will the ULEZ affect non-Motability Scheme vehicles?

Unlike the congestion charge zone, Blue Badge holders will not be exempt and will be required to meet the new ULEZ emission standards unless the vehicle has a ‘disabled’ or ‘disabled passenger vehicle’ tax class.

Anyone who is worried that their vehicle is going to make them liable because of the age of the vehicle or a change in circumstances should check online by visiting the TFL website.

Please note, details included in this article are correct as of February 2019 but can be changed at any time by the relevant local authority.

Read more articles like this:

How to access disabled parking concessions across the UK

Toll road and congestion scheme charges and concessions for disabled people across the UK

Discover accessible days out

The Motability Scheme enables disabled people and their families to access a brand new car or scooter, by exchanging their mobility allowance to lease the vehicle of their choice. Find out more:

Get a free information pack

Why join the Scheme?

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