- By Tom Edwards
- Transport and environment correspondent, London
I’m getting asked a lot of questions on Ulez expansion – many of them are repeat questions and so here are some answers.
When can all Londoners apply for the Ulez scheme?
All Londoners can apply from 21 August. Previously, only Londoners receiving benefits could apply.
For scrappage, there is about £60m left in the scheme but another £50m will be added.
The latest figures show there have been 30,000 applications. 10,000 have been accepted, so two thirds have been rejected or delayed. TfL say those entries didn’t meet the criteria, for example the right documents may not have been provided – and may still be in the system.
What about people who had already purchased new cars to replace old cars that were non-compliant. Will this payment be backdated to compensate us all?
No, sorry, there won’t be retrospective scrappage.
What is ‘retrofitting’? I have never heard of it, how much can I get?
Retrofitting is possible for some vans when technology is added to reduce pollution. Broadly, it’s possible vans with a Euro V engine can be retrofitted. You could get a £6,000 grant to help pay for it. Although it might not be the cheapest option.
There is more information here.
There have been big changes to the scheme, with longer grace periods as TfL is expecting a surge in interest.
It seems there are only three centres in the UK – the nearest to London is in Luton – and van owners have told us it has been tricky getting a booking.
The new rules mean eligible businesses and charities need to have booked their retrofit and have it signed off by TfL by the 29 August 2023. They will receive a temporary exemption from the Ulez charges until the 29 November 2023 at the latest.
But, from the 21 August, the grace period is changing, so that the retrofit needs to have been booked by the 29 November 2023 with the grace period lasting until the 29 May 2024 at the latest.
The retrofit solution needs to be carried out by a Clean Vehicle Retrofit Accreditation Scheme (CVRAS) approved fitter to meet the Ulez emissions standards.
Can I buy an old car and apply for £2,000 scrappage?
Nice try. The car needs to have been registered with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) to you (or someone who lives at your address) since 30 January 2022 or earlier.
Is Heathrow in the Ulez zone?
Yes it is in the Ulez zone. Heathrow bosses and unions have had concerns about workers having to pay.
Another issue is those who work overnight and have non-compliant cars could have to pay twice as the Ulez runs from midnight to midnight.
My neighbour who is a pensioner and has a non-compliant car does not have a smart phone or internet. How is she meant to apply for scrappage or pay for charges?
TfL say you could fill out her form on her behalf, or there is a phone number she could call 0343 222 2222.
Must the £2,000 scrappage be used for buying another car or is the money purely for the scrapping of the old car and mine to spend as I wish?
The money can be used for anything – it is being paid to get more polluting cars and vans off the road.
It’s also worth noting that you can get a combination of scrappage and travelcards that could be worth more than the scrappage itself.
I am forced to buy another car but can’t afford to do so until I get the scrappage money but won’t get that until 20 days after the 21 August. Why?
This is a big issue. Ulez expansion starts on 29 August but all Londoners can only apply for scrappage from 21 August. Previously, only Londoners receiving benefits have been able to apply.
TfL says the processing is taking in the region of 20 days and scrappage “isn’t offered on the basis that funds will be used to purchase a replacement vehicle”, because some people may choose other alternatives such as joining a car club or buying a travel card.
Why don’t you ever mention that Ulez was a Boris Johnson policy?
The Ulez in central London was a policy of former Conservative London mayor Boris Johnson and confirmed by him in 2015. It was brought forward by incumbent Labour mayor Sadiq Khan in 2017 and was known as the T-charge. However, the crucial point is the expansion out to cover the whole of London was a decision by Mr Khan, announced in November 2022.
As someone who lives just outside of London and cannot avoid going into the capital, will we qualify for compensation?
I’m afraid not. TfL scrappage is only for those who live in the London boroughs. However, the mayor is calling on central government to set up a scrappage scheme for the home counties – no news on that yet.
My husband’s car is not compliant. He has a blue badge as he has mobility issues. Shouldn’t blue badge holders be exempt?
If you receive disability benefits then you can be eligible for a grace period until 2027.
TfL says disability benefits were considered the “fairest and most consistent approach to eligibility”.
Some blue badge holders are exempt – for example, people with terminal illnesses and those with children under three with a medical condition.
My car has low carbon CO2 emissions and I pay low tax. Why is it non-compliant?
Many people were persuaded to buy diesels in the 2000s as the government then was trying to lower CO2 carbon emissions.
While the carbon emissions were lower in those diesels, other forms of pollutants like toxic nitrogen dioxide were high.
Broadly, only diesels with Euro 6 engines have enough technology – for example particulate filters – to reduce those pollutants and be compliant.
Can I get a scrappage grant before I scrap my car so I can buy a new one?
No, you need a Certificate of Destruction, which means your car has been scrapped. Only then will TfL process the £2,000 grant.
If I drive in the Ulez zone with a non-compliant car how long have I got to pay?
You will have until midnight three days after you drove in the zone to pay the charge. You can pay via online or over the phone on 0343 222 2222.
If I drive in the Ulez zone and, for the first time, I forget to pay – what will happen then?
TfL are a little reluctant to talk about the initial enforcement.
Officially it says: “TfL reserves the right to use discretion to issue a warning notice instead of a penalty charge notice. However, we would advise anyone driving a non-compliant vehicle in the zone to pay the charge to avoid the risk of being fined.”
In reality, what has happened in previous schemes is a lot of warning letters have been issued for first offences. However, the fine for not paying the charge is high £180 (or £90 paid within 14 days).