Using the wrong car in Brixton could cost you £4,000 a year

Richard Haas details new anti-pollution fees for Brixton car owners that will take effect next year – and how to avoid them

crowded road
Cars on Atlantic Road

Some Brixton car owners could face a £12.50 a day charge just to get behind the wheel next year when London’s Ultra-Low Emission Zone (Ulez) expands.

For an average family with one child or more, this could work out to around £4,243 a year in fees.

The Ulez will expand on 25 October next year to cover all streets within the North and South Circular Roads, which includes all of Brixton and the surrounding area. It will apply 24 hours a day and seven days a week.

However, the charge only applies if your vehicle does not meet emission standards set by Transport for London (TfL).

If you drive a petrol car, it is required to meet “Euro 4” standards to be exempt from the charge; most petrol cars sold after 2006 will meet these standards.

Diesel cars, however, must comply with the more stringent “Euro 6” standards. Diesels bought before September 2015 may not meet these standards.

There are exemptions until 2025, including classic cars aged 40 years or more, and cars owned by disabled drivers.

You can use this tool to check if your car meets the required emission standards.

This change will lead to a dramatic improvement in London’s toxic air quality, which causes up to 9,400 extra deaths a year.

It is particularly relevant in Brixton, where campaigners have been raising the alarm on the public health crisis that is air pollution for years.

In 2017, readings taken on Brixton Road revealed it had received its recommended maximum annual amount of pollution in the first five days of the year.

Levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) were found to repeatedly breach EU limits. This discovery prompted the introduction of Low Emission Bus Zones by London mayor Sadiq Khan.

This year, NO2 levels on Brixton Road averaged 55.9µg/m3 – that’s micrograms (one millionth of a gram) per cubic metre.

This is a big improvement from 2017, when levels stood at 96ug/m3.

However, it is still higher than the limit set by EU law (40ug/m3), making Brixton Road the most polluted monitoring site of this year.

The expansion of the Ulez could vastly improve these numbers.

Extinction Rebellion Lambeth member and local resident George Deacon says: “The Ulez expansion is definitely good and it has been having an effect for years as people prepared for its implementation.

“But it’s not fair for Oval residents to be protected while Streatham residents continue to be poisoned by the air they breathe. The Ulez must cover all Lambeth.”

Deacon argues the city should go further in its efforts.

He says: “The vast majority of fossil fuel cars are unaffected by it. We need now to be urgently planning for a London-wide zero emission zone.”

“I’m 100% behind the idea of expanding the Ulez,’ says Steve Tooze, father of two, local resident and keen supporter of the Railton Low Traffic Neighbourhood.

“It feels to me like a powerful tool for dramatically cutting the currently illegally high levels of car pollution that cause ill health and premature deaths across the capital.

traffic signs
The Ultra Low Emission Zone will reach as far south as the South Circular Road in Tulse Hill

“It could work really well alongside the roll-out of low-traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs) by many councils which is encouraging people to stop making unnecessary car journeys and free up the roads for people like delivery drivers, disabled residents and emergency services who really need to drive.

“We have to wean the city we love off its addiction to private car travel as soon as possible, for health reasons, to avoid gridlock on our streets, and to play our part in lowering the emissions that are driving the climate crisis.

“More people will feel able to walk and cycle on streets that aren’t filled with fumes and crazy with car traffic.

“An expanded Ulez will welcome an even wider part of London into a future that is cleaner, safer and more enjoyable for all of us.”


  1. “For an average family with one child or more” — should this be “For an average family with one _car_ or more”? True, children do emit… emissions, but as far as I know there’s no tax on these!

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