London Ultra Low Emission Zones and UK Clean Air Zone

A sign displaying "Ultra Low Emission Zone at all times" indicating a restricted area for vehicles with minimal emissions.

The launch and expansion of Ultra Low Emission Zones (ULEZ) and Clean Air Zones (CAZ) in London and the UK mean fresh challenges for millions of drivers and businesses. Both zones aim to improve air quality and promote cleaner, greener travel alternatives by discouraging older polluting vehicles from entering. That’s why it’s more cost critical than ever to stay ahead of the game. Some of your fleet might be compliant, but it’s always worth constantly reviewing your petrol and diesel outlay – and fuelGenie driver benefits – as the restrictions are only likely to spread.

So what are ULEZ and CAZ and how do they affect you?

The ULEZ or Ultra Low Emission Zone operates 24/7 and has just been extended to cover Greater London and the Home Counties. So, if your cars, motorcycles, vans or specialist vehicles (up to and including 3.5 tonnes) aren’t exempt because they don’t meet emissions standards, there’s a daily charge. Businesses and individuals failing to pay the £12.50 per vehicle face a penalty charge of £180 which drops to £90 if it’s paid within a fortnight.

The UK is also leading the rollout of CAZ – Clean Air Zones – with Birmingham, Leeds, Southampton and Bath among early adopters of restrictions to tackle poor air quality and boost public health. The goal for both is clear – to reduce traffic and emissions and push people towards greener travel.

How do I prepare my drivers for the new zones?

Small and medium-sized businesses that fail to steer their drivers down a greener, financially more sustainable route face financial bumps in the road. So it’s wise to make sure all the other elements of your fleet’s management are headache-free. If you haven’t already, make your team aware of the CAZ locations, which currently include Portsmouth, Bristol, Oxford, Sheffield, Bradford, York, Newcastle, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen.

It’s easy to check if your fleet is compliant at If some of your vehicles aren’t, then you might need to look at daily operational schedules to decide which vehicles are best suited for these areas. Route planning and cost reduction will become even more important as the pollution zones expand and the exemption criteria changes in the future.

How can fuelGenie help keep my costs on track?

fuelGenie, our free fuel card, makes it easier to keep a close eye on your fuel expenditure and is a big ally in any strategy to keep running costs down. Careful planning, investment and efficient fleet management will all be needed to stay on the right side of the regulations.

Start your route planning by:

  • implementing a clear and simple reporting and tracking system to encourage robust zone compliance.
  • mapping your regular and new zones alongside ULEZ and CAZ to ensure you don’t get caught out.
  • optimising your routes to go near participating fuelGenie petrol stations such as Tesco, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s.

What are the other key steps towards a more sustainable business?

On top of driver awareness, businesses need to look at their medium and long-term operations and structure to see what lasting changes can be made to get greener. That might mean gradually shifting the fleet towards low-emission, hybrid and electric vehicles or retrofitting existing ones.

Customers are increasingly insisting on sustainability so look into the financial and ethical benefits of having a strong Environmental, Social, and Corporate (ESG) policy. There are a range of quick and easy-to-access incentives available to ease the pain of transition with scrappage schemes already up and running.

Small businesses and sole traders can scrap three vans or minibuses while payments to fleets retrofitting vehicles have increased from £5,000 to £6,000. Since the changes were introduced, Transport for London has paid out £1.45 million to small businesses. And most applications usually take only a few days.

Saving money has never been easier

The Government offers an array of tax credits, rebates, and grants for hybrid vehicle purchases, along with low interest loans and incentives for moving towards an eco-friendly fleet. The benefits of adopting a greener, more sustainable and cost-conscious fleet extend to the drivers and workforce, who can also benefit from enhanced training and knowing they’re playing their part in creating a greener planet.

Meaningful incentives for drivers who meet fuel efficiency targets by using fuelGenie could be another powerful tool to ensure the clean air regulations work. The long-term economic and environmental advantages of transitioning to cleaner vehicles and complying with ULEZ and CAZ policies are clear, but there are more immediate savings to be had too.

Cutting costs and helping your drivers

If your transport expenses are increasing with ULEZ or similar restrictions, fuelGenie can help. Using only the network of low-cost supermarket petrol stations helps keep costs down and there’s no need to pay account fees, card fees or any hidden surcharges. Business owners and fleet managers have control and visibility on fuel expenditure, all in one place, so they can stay on top of their finances. And drivers can even collect the supermarket loyalty rewards as they refuel.

Businesses can order an unlimited number of fuelGenie cards to give all drivers easy access to low-cost supermarket fuel at more than 1,350 forecourts across the UK. Plus, if they’re unsure where to find their nearest participating location, they can use the petrol station finder on the app.

What other customers said…

Jan Croall, of System Wise Ltd, says: “There’s no need for fuel on expenses - our vehicles are driven by many employees, so we have one fuelGenie card per vehicle which is fab!”

Richard Hosken-Johns, of Phoenix Investigations Ltd, agrees: “I love the ability to keep the business moving when cash flow is low. The ability to have easily downloadable invoices for tax purposes is also very useful.”

Those compelling reasons aside, the biggest reason to reassess your fleet activity is the need to make a positive impact on air quality and public health, for us, our children – and theirs.

Future-proofing your fleet

Ensuring your vehicles are fit for purpose will become increasingly critical to addressing the priorities coming down the track as clean air targets become even more pressing for the Government.

Companies that begin tackling transport costs now will be ahead of the game when it comes to diverting finances to meet key sustainability targets in the years ahead. And with the expansion of ULEZ already confirmed and the spread of existing and new CAZ areas showing no signs of slowing, the time to bring fuel costs into one easily manageable pot is now.

Totally in control

Having the clearest possible sight of your outgoings, as the clean air regulations extend, will mean fuelGenie or our other solution, fuelGenie+ – featuring more locations, flexibility and benefits for a small fee – become key players in your team. Our fuel cards allow savvy managers to monitor and control expenditure and simplify fleet management with ease, ending the need for complex admin or individual driver expenses.

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