More than 200,000 Penalty Charge Notices have been issued for non-payment of the London Ultra-Low Emission Zone charges since the scheme was introduced in April.

The Ultra Low Emission Zone, or ULEZ, operates in the same area as the Congestion Charge, but is run separately. Under the rules of the ULEZ, diesel cars that fail to meet the Euro 6 emissions standards and petrol-powered cars that fail to meet the Euro 4 emissions standard will be charged. Failure to pay the charge results in a fine, which is issued in the form of a penalty charge notice.

Car, motorcycle and van drivers who fail to pay the daily charge of £12.50 will face a £160 fine, although that can be reduced to £80 if it is paid within a fortnight. HGV and coach drivers, meanwhile, have to pay a higher daily charge of £100, or face a £1,000 fine. Again, though, that can be halved to £500 if it’s paid within 14 days.

Ultra Low Emission Zone ULEZ warning sign in London

The scheme came into force in April, but early offenders who failed to pay charges before May 11, were issued with warning notices rather than PCNs. Between then and August 31, though, Transport for London (TfL) figures obtained by car selling comparison website showed that 223,952 Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) were handed out.

Almost 32,000 drivers received more than one penalty ticket in that time, while the worst offender has amassed a massive 81 PCNs in that time. For that driver, such a rate of offending could mean the total cost of fines is approaching £13,000.

Ultra Low Emission Zone ULEZ warning sign in central London

Alex Buttle, director of car selling comparison website, said figures showed the ULEZ was “doing its job” in terms of reducing traffic and pollution, but the scheme had also earned the authorities more than £40 million.

"Something had to be done with London facing a public health crisis,” he said. “The electric car switch-over can't come quick enough, but until it does, ULEZ shows there is a genuine commitment to tackle London's toxic air. And that commitment is proving successful.

“While ULEZ was not about generating money for councils, it has nevertheless brought in more than £40m in charges and penalty notices in the six months since launch. Schemes like ULEZ should always be about the health and well-being of people living in major urban areas. Although pollution levels are still unacceptably high in the capital, the success of ULEZ proves that similar clean air zones can and should be urgently rolled out across the country.”

View of Thames river and London at sunset with red sky and air pollution

Helen Chapman, TfL’s director of licensing, regulation and charging, said: “Since its introduction in April this year the Ultra-Low Emission Zone has been hugely successful with 13,500 fewer older, polluting vehicles entering the zone each day. There has also been a big fall in roadside air pollution with harmful nitrogen dioxide reduced by a third within the scheme’s boundaries. A high proportion of vehicles in the zone are meeting the tough emission standards with 77 percent being compliant.

“The high level of compliance has been achieved via an extensive public information campaign and ensuring the charge is properly enforced. The introduction of the ULEZ is not about making money, but about improving the health and wellbeing of thousands of Londoners. Any money received from the ULEZ is reinvested into walking, cycling and public transport.”

London traffic congestion