A motorist who had to prove his car was compliant with the ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) regulations has questioned how many people have been wrongly charged.
Edward Paul was planning to travel from his home in Bearsted, near Maidstone, to Heathrow – which is now subject to tolls – and would therefore enter the ULEZ.
The ULEZ is an emission-based charging scheme in London that requires certain polluting vehicles driving within it to pay a daily charge of £12.50.
Two months ago it was controversially expanded again to include the greater London boroughs, including Bexley and Bromley, up to the borders with Dartford and Sevenoaks.
Although Edward knew his Volkswagen Tiguan met Transport for London’s (TfL) ULEZ standards, as it was manufactured in 2017 and was Euro 6 emissions compliant, he decided to be on the safe side and double-check prior to his trip.
“I was surprised to see that they declared my car as non-compliant and liable to pay their £12.50 daily charge,” the 75-year-old said.
On the TfL website, it states that “cars need to meet minimum emissions standards” to drive within the zone or the daily charge will apply.
For a petrol car to meet the requirements it must be Euro 4 compliant and for a diesel, it would need to be Euro 6.
It adds in general petrol cars first registered as new with the DVLA after 2005 and diesel cars registered after September 2015 will also meet the standards.
Therefore, Edward’s 2017 Euro 6 diesel car would meet the requirements and independent websites agreed – however TfL’s website stated it did not.
He added: “It was so ridiculous. Its own website stated clearly the requirements which my car met. It could see my car was manufactured in 2017 and by its own stipulations, it was compliant.”
The grandfather-of-two contacted the government body to explain the error but said he was given a generic response telling him he would need to pay the daily toll if entering the zone.
To prove his car, which he had bought 18 months prior, was compliant he contacted Volkswagen’s headquarters in Milton Keynes to obtain a certificate of conformity.
Last month, he received a letter from TfL’s contracts and operations manager stating the vehicle did meet the emission standards following the information he submitted.
Edward, of Nursery Avenue, Bearsted, added: “It took me months to discuss with TfL. Its error and its intransigence were unbelievable. Where is it getting its information from?
“My main concern is how many people have just accepted what TfL says and how much money is it raking in because of this. How many of the Kent residents have been falsely declared as having non-compliant vehicles?”
Earlier this month, KentOnline revealed nearly 70,000 motorists in the county have been slapped with £90 fines for driving into the ULEZ before its latest expansion.
The figures include penalties which may have been issued to the same vehicle more than once and so do not show how many individual drivers have been caught.
A spokesman for TfL said: “We apologise for any confusion around the compliance status of Mr Paul’s vehicle. A review of the records we use for our vehicle checker shows that his vehicle has always been compliant.
“We have informed Mr Paul that his vehicle meets the ULEZ standards. He has not received any charges or fines and will not receive any in the future.
“The TfL vehicle checker uses the highest quality of data available. It is based on a range of data - not just from the DVLA but also information from the Vehicle Certification Agency and vehicle manufacturers.”
The zone was made bigger despite a continued fightback from bordering Conservative-led councils which launched a failed High Court appeal against the Labour mayor’s plans.
In response, Sadiq Khan defended the “pollution penalty”, maintaining he needed to make a “difficult but vital” decision to address the capital's dirty air and curb deaths and public health issues associated with it.
But despite this, he has faced criticism that the charge penalises anyone who cannot afford to upgrade their car and those living in areas with bad public transport.
A TfL report published in February, states that ULEZ compliance rates have increased since the October 2021 expansion across inner London with 94% of vehicles driving in the zone now meeting the standards.