Capital’s classics threatened by proposed Ultra Low Emissions Zone


Classic and historic vehicles could be effectively banned from eight-square-miles of London’s financial and business districts, threatening businesses, forcing events to cancel and inconveniencing countless private owners, it has been discovered. A proposal first put forward by London’s Mayor in 2009 to restrict central London to zero and ultra low emission vehicles by 2020 – the ULEZ – has gained further traction following a recent stakeholder forum. The proposed changes will see the current Congestion Charging Zone off-limits to all but the most environmentally friendly cars – or risk picking up a fine – within the next six years.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “Creating the world’s first big city ultra low emission zone has the potential to be a game changing moment in the quality of life of our great capital. My vision is a central zone where almost all the vehicles running during working hours are either zero or low emission.”

While heavily polluting diesel vehicles are the main contributors to London’s increasing levels of Nitrogen Oxides, it is expected that historic vehicles – and classic car events such as the Regent Street Motor Show – may get caught up in the legislation.

A spokesman for the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs said: “It seems reasonable to assume there would be a reasonable chance of inclusion of historic vehicles in the exemptions, as there already is in the current LEZ. But it ought not to be taken for granted. Clearly there should be such an exemption, if only because the contribution to poor air quality of historic vehicles on cultural events will be vanishingly small.”

“We also need to remember that there will be some historic vehicles actually kept within London, and they need to be allowed to stay and get in and out,” he added.

Chairman of the Royal Automobile Club Motoring Committee and organiser of the London to Brighton Veteran Car Run, Ben Cussons, told C&SC: “We are in discussions with the Mayor’s office about the potential impact of the ULEZ on both classic events such as the Veteran Car Run and the individual motorist driving historical vehicles. They recognise that emissions from historic vehicles form a very small part of total vehicle emissions, but the European legislation which they are obliged to respect forces them to deal with all vehicles."

The proposed legislation would also affect classic car specialists based within the Congestion Charge Zone, such as Taylor & Crawley, which has been operating since 1942. Owner, David Clark, told C&SC: “It will affect our business considerably. Any client coming to our showroom will be unable to drive our cars – they will have to be transported to a different location. And what sort of transporter will be allowed in central London?”

When questioned, Transport for London did little to allay enthusiasts’ fears. TfL’s Managing Director of Planning, Michele Dix said: “Last year the Mayor announced his ambition for a central London Ultra Low Emission Zone that would reduce air pollutant and CO2 emissions and stimulate the low emission vehicle economy.

"Since then TfL has been exploring ways to introduce the scheme in 2020 and has focused on the development of options. Engagement with stakeholders has been a key element of the process and this work will continue throughout 2014. Their feedback will help shape a final proposal for consultation later this year.”

The operating hours of the new zone are still to be finalised, with two options currently being touted. The first would see the ULEZ share the Congestion Charging hours of 7am-6pm Monday to Friday. The second, and as we understand more likely, follows the Low Emission Zone’s lead, being in effect 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

The Mayor’s proposal is set to enter the consultation stage in early 2015. 



Inevitable. I'm selling up and moving out.

Rex Pengilly

Isn't it time the classic movement and various classic groups started to combat all of this emissions nonsense by registering and challenging the damage done to the environment by the constant manufacture of new vehicles through the pillaging of natural resources and the amount of primary energy used in their production and delivery across the globe. How many production miles and how much primary energy is gobbled up and damage done through the mining of minerals in the manufacture of a hybrid's batteries, its productions and delivery to a UK showroom and how long will it take to balance this equation when compared to the emissions of a well maintained classic? Some years ago I recall an early look at this compared Ming Campbell's V12 Jaguar against a Prius and came up with an answer of c25 years. Then there was something in the Sunday Times measuring the performance of a Hybrid against a normal engine car on a run from London to Monte Carlo. Again the Hybrid came off worse.Does any one else remember these discussions?



Need to organise 'Swamp London With Classics'. Start with twice per year and if that has no effect, do it on a monthly basis. Typical EU nonsense which our buffoon politicians follow to the letter. Time to stand up to these idiots, even voting UKIP will probably be a good idea!!


Evidently Toyota source the nickel for their batteries from the Sudbury Mine in Ontario. Take a look at it on Google Maps; "How Green WAS my Valley" to use an old movie title.

dilman,  Home Counties


Personally, I wouldn't go on the offensive unless backed into a corner. The FBHVC will work towards an exclusion, and if it gets sticky they'll ask for help. Get out and about on Drive It day. Any attempts to swamp London with classics will destroy public support. I visit the city from time to time and the air quality is horrific. Good for the EU in reminding our £eaders to look after us instead of just themselves.


Does anyone see any classic cars in central London? I think that the classic car world should unite and fight, and allow the right for people to drive their cars, whatever they maybe, into this part of London.

Can anyone answer the question of since when is the electric car  so green, when you consider that these car users use power from coal powered power stations, very green! And what do they mean by classic? I know the ban includes my Humber, but does it include cars that over 20 years old?

Don't get me started on the stupid idea of pre-84 cars being exempt from MOTs. I feel that the Common Market is trying to run old cars off the road.


The case that the long term preservation of cars is environmentaly positive seems to get lost. It is not made strongly enough. In the face of the modern car industry and the demand for jobs and GDP growth; it is, no doubt, a tough sell. But surely the case that (i) 'Classics' create significant highly skilled UK work, and that (ii) preservation avoids the burn of vast amounts of carbon in new production, must be made.
Perhaps the magazine can investigate the truth around 'carbon burn'; preserving a classic v new production?



Excellent observations.


This, like many other motoring hobby measures a very few "leaders" and "lawmakers" are attempting to push around the globe, is only done so in ignorance and self promotion. These few are being manipulated by another few "green" activists who are also drowning in ignorance and the need of self promotion.

This issue is larger than one city and one man attempting to undermine history, hobby and industry. As automotive enthusiasts, we must come together collectively as a strong international lobby to squash such legislation. With the advancement of one city passing such a law, a door will be opened to continue the ban on a mass scale.

Enthusiasts on a global scale should collaborate by flooding the office of London Mayor Johnson's office with letters and phone calls of protest. Many voices of reason will most always out weigh the whining of a few.


What will happen to Prince Charles' DB6 Volante - a 21st birthday gift from the Queen, I believe - that Prince William drove after his wedding? Will it have to be trailered outside the zone before HRH is allowed to drive it? Crazy legislation.

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