Councils and Transport for London stung over £1m in emission and penalty charges

New Freedom of Information request finds that many of the capital’s councils have been fined for breaking road rules.

Ulez to cover the entire city London
Ulez to cover the entire city London

Transport for London (TfL) and some of the 32 councils in the capital have been charged an estimated £1.17 million since 2017, according to a new study.

The freedom of information request submitted by carwow also found that Birmingham City Council has been charged £77,768 in fees and fines due to non-compliant council vehicles driving into the city’s Clean Air Zone since it was established in June 2021.

Birmingham City Council said that it is “investing in a cleaner fleet so all vehicles operated by the council meet the emission standards of the Clean Air Zone”.

A total of £1,250,453.92 in estimated fines was found by the investigation. Carwow asked authorities in the country’s two largest cities how many times since 2017 their vehicles had incurred charges and penalties from entering London’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) and Birmingham’s Clean Air Zone (CAZ), as well as any other notices of any kind such as bus lane or parking fines. Penalties for driving in low-traffic neighbourhoods were also included.

TfL administers the ULEZ and though it had stated that its vehicles were registered to ‘AutoPay’ the charges, it had incurred 1,311 instances of non-compliant vehicles entering the zone since it was introduced, collecting £16,387.50 in fines as a result. The majority of these were in 2019 when the zone was first introduced. TfL has stated that the only non-compliant vehicle that now enters the zone regularly is used by the London Transport Museum to move stock.

London’s councils didn’t fare any better and incurred higher charges. The Royal Borough of Greenwich, for instance, was charged £32,000 by TfL for the 2,584 non-compliant journeys undertaken into the ULEZ between October 2021 (when the zone was expanded to include Greenwich) and April 2022. The council stated that supply chain issues had made it difficult to acquire ULEZ-compliant vehicles.

Ealing council, meanwhile, had conducted 1,635 non-compliant trips, racking up £20,437.50 in fines in the process. Some councils, including Wandsworth and Hackney, said that all of their vehicles were ULEZ compliant, however.

In Birmingham, the Clean Air Zone brings a £120 penalty – reduced to £60 if paid within 14 days – to drivers. The city’s council stated that non-compliant council vehicles made 3,586 trips into the CAZ since June 2021, resulting in a bill of at least £28,688, and up to £179,300 depending on the type of vehicle.

Many other penalty notices were incurred, with Islington Council stating that it has received 2,117 Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) from 2017 to mid-2022, the highest figure of any council that responded to the request and one that equated to £215,172 in charges. Islington council told Carwow that its vehicles are subject to “the same restrictions as vehicles belonging to members of the public” and that it works “to ensure that staff driving council vehicles are familiar with the relevant traffic and parking restrictions, and to ensure that these are adhered to.”

Transport for London said that it is “committed to reducing road danger and disruption in London”, and as such its vehicles are not exempt from road rules. The organisation said: “Any TfL employee who receives a PCN while working is reminded of our expectation that TfL employees must comply with all laws at all times, including abiding by the rules of the road.”

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