London Low Emission Zone

London Low Emission Zone

At the start of January 2012 there were some changes to the London Low Emission Zone. These changes affect my Hymer motorhome and no doubt affect many of you too. The zone was initially introduced in 2008 and was aimed at larger so-called polluting diesel vehicles. The tightening of these rules now mean I can no longer use my motorhome inside the zone.

London Low Emission Zone – Does it apply to you?

The zone has affected many people including small businesses and the motorhome community. Exemptions were given to some specific groups of vehicles, for example:

  • Agricultural vehicles that spend the majority of their time off-road but may also use roads.
  • Historic vehicles built before 1 January 1973.
  • Vehicles operated by the Ministry of Defence.

There are also a group of vehicles that are eligible for a 100% discount in the charge including:

  • Showman’s vehicles (for example circus and fairground vehicles).

Reading the motorhome press it seems there are a number of unhappy people. The feeling among affected owners is that the groups who are supposed to represent the motorhome community didn’t do enough to try and gain exemptions.  

London Low Emission Zone
The London Low Emission Zone

London Low Emission Zone – Fitting A Diesel Particulate Filter

If you have a vehicle that no longer complies with the Low Emission Zone you have a few options. You could decide to simply avoid the zone. Alternatively you might feel it’s time to sell your vehicle and buy a newer, compliant motorhome. Your third option is to fit a diesel particulate filter to your existing vehicle to make it compliant. The decision for many will largely rest on whether they live inside the zone or regularly visit London.

I briefly considered getting a diesel particulate filter fitted to my Hymer. I was quoted £2000.00 by one company. In the end I decided against it for the following reasons:

  • The filter needs to be tested each year resulting in another annual cost like the MOT.
  • The filters are relatively new and there is little data about how long they might last.
  • The Low Emission Zone rules may be changed again. Will any new rules mean your filter is no longer compliant?

These changes mean I will no longer be able to use campsites like Crystal Palace. I also won’t be able to wild camp at Wimbledon Common or Ealing Common.

Has the London Low Emission Zone impacted on you? If so why not leave a comment, I would be interested to know what you decided to do. To find out if your vehicle is affected visit the Transport for London website.


  1. Hi Gary,
    I’ve just stumbled across your website and it’s excellent. Just a quick question for you: My partner and I are Australian and we bought a motorhome early this year to do a Europe trip. That trip is coming to an end and we are just about to head back to London to sell the van and catch a flight home. As we’re unfamiliar with London, I’d be seriously appreciative if you could suggest somewhere outside the Low Emissions Zone that we could park very cheaply of free of charge for a week or two while we auction the van. If public toilets or a library etc were nearby that would be a bonus, as would a train station.
    Kind regards,

  2. Hi Jaclyn,

    Tricky one as you obviously have a vehicle that is not LEZ compliant as indeed I do. My former wild camping haunts like Ealing Common and Wimbledon Common are both within the zone.

    Generally I use campsites but I assume you are looking for something cheaper. If you decide to use campsites you will need to consider those that are open all year round. Reviews of ones I’ve stayed at that are convenient for London but outside the zone include: – Good site and you can get into London relatively cheaply to do the tourist thing. – More of a pain if you want to get into central London as you need to get bus to Uxbridge tube station and then tube into heart of town. – Good site but means a walk to train station and fares to central London expensive.

    One of the Lee Valley campsites is outside the zone but it’s not one I’ve stayed at, link: It would compete with the Theobalds Park one in terms of cheaper fares to London.

    Cheaper options would be to try and find a smaller CL (limited to 5 units) but I don’t know many in the London area.

    Wild camping is something I don’t have enough knowledge on these days. I would say the best likely area to explore and google for would be Epping Forest which is pretty green and rural but has tube station for cheap and easy access to central London.

    Where in Europe are you at the moment? I’m heading to France and Belgium for a couple of days myself.

    Hope this helps!

    The Motorhome Vagabond

  3. Guys some advice needed please. I’ve been advised by the London LEZ helpline that if I change the status of my converted van to motorhome with the DVLA, then I should be ok. I live inside the LEZ so I phoned the DVLA and they agreed, they said send photos and any receipts relating to work done on the van and it should be ok to change the status and make it immune from LEZ charges. But after reading this it seems Campers are not immune??

  4. Hi Tom,

    OK unless there have been some changes to the LEZ in terms of vehicle classification I believe the information DVLA have given you is either inaccurate or there is some confusion. Basically the LEZ is aimed at getting older diesel vehicles off the road in London, regardless of the use of that vehicle, mileage covered etc. In terms of motorhomes it seems very unfair as many who live in London and own such a vehicle don’t want to drive around London with such a vehicle but do need to start in London before exiting the city for their holiday.

    The LEZ applied to commercial vehicles and not normal passenger cars. So you can drive an old diesel car and even one with a similar sized engine and CO2 emissions and it’s legal. Most motorhomes are based on commercial vehicles like Fiat Ducatos, Mercedes, Renaults and Ford Transits etc. The white van man was affected by the LEZ as were motorhomes owners. I’m not aware of any change to ruling to allow motorhomes as an exemption. There are a few exemptions for the likes of showman’s vehicles (think the vehicles used to move the funfair around the country).

    The LEZ website has a tool to check the registration for compliance. If this says your vehicle is not compliant I don’t see how changing the status from commercial vehicle to motorhome will help you. What make model and year of vehicle are we talking about here? If I were you I would not rely on a phone conversation with the DVLA, ask the question by letter and get something in writing. I bet once you do this you will find they will be unwilling to allow to be become LEZ compliant.

    I have heard stories of Land Rover forums putting up a fight and getting some exemptions but not sure exactly as I only read it in passing and have not owned a Land Rover in ages.

    Good luck.


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