Businesses prepare for London emission charges

Businesses including coach operators and HGV fleet managers are preparing for the introduction of an Emissions Surcharge, known as the ‘T-charge,’ in central London, which aims to discourage the use of older, more polluting vehicles.

The charge, which is an additional £10 charge on top of what drivers will already pay to enter the Congestion Charge Zone, comes into effect from 23 October, and applies to petrol and diesel vehicles which fall below the Euro 4 emission standard.

Charges will increase from October to enter the Congestion Charge Zone in central London

Euro 4 stipulates that vehicles must emit no more than 0.08g/km of NOx for petrol vehicles or 0.25g/km for diesel to achieve the standard.

This will essentially mean that cars, vans, minibuses, buses, coaches and HGVs built prior to 2005 will be subject to a charge of more than £20 per day to enter the centre of London. Transport for London has estimated that as many as 8,850 vehicles will be subject to the charge every day.

Some exemptions exist, with motorcycles, mopeds and scooters currently exempt from the Congestion Charge also exempt from the T-Charge, while residents registered for the Congestion Charge Residents’ Discount will automatically be registered for a 90% discount on the T-Charge.

Vehicle owners can use a specially created online vehicle compliance checker, on the TfL website to establish whether their vehicle is affected by the T-Charge and get advice on what action, if any, they need to take.

Charges for vehicles to enter Congestion Charge Zone, after October 2017

Vehicle type (includes hybrid vehicles)  Minimum emission standard  Congestion Charge amount T-Charge amount (if emission standard not met) Total daily payment (if emission standard not met)
Motorised tricycles and quadricycles Euro 3 £11.50
(£10.50 Auto Pay)
£10 £21.50
(£20.50 Auto Pay)
Cars, and small vans (not exceeding 1,205kg unladen weight and not exceeding 3500kg GVW) Euro 4 £11.50
(£10.50 Auto Pay)
£10 £21.50
(£20.50 Auto Pay)
Vans (exceeding 1,205kg unladen and not exceeding 3,500kg GVW) and Minibuses (not exceeding 5,000kg GVW)* Euro 4 £11.50
(£10.50 Auto Pay)
£10 £21.50
(£20.50 Auto Pay)
HGVs (exceeding 3,500kg GVW) Euro 4 £11.50
(£10.50 Auto Pay)
£10 £21.50
(£20.50 Auto Pay)
Coaches and buses (exceeding 5,000kg GVW) Euro 4 £0** £10 £10
Vehicles registered for Residents’ Discount As above depending on your vehicle type £1.05 (Auto Pay) £1 £2.05 (Auto Pay)

Source: TfL

The Emissions Surcharge is one of a host of measures introduced by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, in a bid to improve air quality in the capital, and will be be superceded by the introduction of an Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) which will eventually be in effect across Greater London.

Commenting on the proposals earlier this year, the Mayor said: “Londoners overwhelmingly support my plans to introduce this £10 charge because they feel when it comes to battling pollution the time for action is now.

“The T-Charge is a vital step in tackling the dirtiest diesels before I introduce the world’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone as early as 2019.”


The ULEZ will further toughen emissions standards in the capital, with petrol cars, vans and minibuses required to meet the Euro 4 standard, whilst diesel vehicles will be required to meet the latest Euro 6 standard in order to avoid a charge of £12.50 per day. HGVs and buses or coaches falling below the Euro 6 standard will be subject to a £100 per day ULEZ charge.

The initial area proposed to be included in the ULEZ from April 2019

The ULEZ will first come into effect in central London from April 2019, having been brought forward 18 months by Sadiq Khan, before its expected roll out across Greater London for heavy diesel vehicles, including buses, coaches and lorries in 2020, and up to the North and South Circular roads for cars and vans in 2021.

Despite having been welcomed by air quality campaigners — some of whom feel that the measure should be brought in quicker — the introduction of the ULEZ in 2019 has been met with concern from fleet operators.


Responding to a consultation on the proposed timing of the ULEZ earlier this year, the Road Haulage Association said that the measure would effectively ‘scrap many modern and expensive vehicles well before their time’.

The organisation has argued that bringing the ULEZ forward does not give sufficient time for vehicle operators to effectively manage the change to newer Euro 6 vehicles.

It added: “Operators have already planned their vehicle purchasing and leases around the original September 2020 date. Late changes such as this will make the purchasing process more expensive. For the operators of specialised freight vehicles, the problem will be even more acute.”

Efforts to tackle emissions in the UK’s towns and cities will be among the issues tackled at the National Air Quality Conference in London on 23 November. To secure your place, click here.


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