How ULEZ is Forcing Londoners to Spend More on Cars

The Ultra Low Emission Zone has impacted the day-to-day lives of many Londoners. First established in Central London in 2017, it’s led to a substantial reduction in nitrogen dioxide emissions, as well as emissions of other pollutants.

This is good news, naturally. But this benefit hasn’t come for free – and the ULEZ remains a source of controversy. Opponents claim that the cost of the ULEZ is being borne disproportionately by less affluent Londoners who need to commute into the city. Now that the zone has expanded to cover most of the city, many Londoners will find themselves faced with a choice: pay the charge, switch to a less polluting vehicle, or stop driving entirely.

While some drivers have been able to avoid fines by simply not being on the system, it seems unlikely that this will be a workable strategy in the long term.

And it’s not just Londoners who need to concern themselves with this development: now that the zone includes Heathrow Airport, even travellers from elsewhere in the country could find themselves having to pay extra to fly.

Impact on Vehicle Ownership

Owners of older vehicles which produce lots of emissions will have to pay more. What’s more, the value of these vehicles will decline – since no one wants to be saddled with a new car with high running costs.

Since poorer people are more likely to own older cars, it seems fair to describe this measure as a regressive tax. Given that the country is in the grip of a cost-of-living crisis, the pressure on poorer households is going to be considerable.

For cars that aren’t ULEZ compliant, a one-off scrappage-scheme payment of £2,000 can help to make the transition less painful.

Push for Electric and Low-Emission Cars

Given that high-polluting cars are being pushed out of the picture, it’s fair to assume that many drivers will seek to invest in a low-emissions hybrid or battery-electric vehicle instead. Eco-friendly vehicles enjoy reduced charges, and many of them can be found for less than the £2,000 you’ll get from the scrappage scheme – especially if you go second-hand.

On the other hand, we should consider that the sudden spike in demand for these vehicles will probably push their prices up in the short term. The right gap insurance quote might help you avoid falling into negative equity if you decide to shop for something new.

Effects on Public Transportation

Naturally, London is a city where car ownership isn’t nearly as popular as it is elsewhere. This change might push many motorists into selling up altogether, and making themselves completely reliant on public transport, instead. Buses and trains are much greener and often cheaper, than getting in a car. And if you’re going to be doing more walking and cycling, the positive effect on your health might be considerable.

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