We have recently taken delivery of a new 7.5 tonne curtain-side truck. It comes with Mercedes’ latest Euro 6 engine which means that it uses the latest clean burn diesel technology. Although we are always seeking to modernise our fleet and improve our efficiency, changes to emissions regulations in London and other cities are a stark reminder that air quality is becoming an increasingly significant factor in restricting vehicular access to built up areas.
As part of the Mayor of London’s strategy to improve air quality in the capital, an ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) came into force on 8th April 2019. Covering the same footprint as the Congestion charge zone, the ULEZ will mean owners of more polluting vehicles will have to pay an additional sum if they enter central London; £12.50 a day for cars and £100 for buses, coaches and LGVs.
The ULEZ replaced the existing ‘T-Charge’ (Toxicity charge) which has been in operation since October 2017 but will be in addition to the Congestion (‘C’) charge. Unlike the T-charge and the C-charge which do not apply at weekends, the zone will be enforced 24/7.
The new requirements for compliance are stricter than anywhere else in the world. In order to avoid the charge diesel engines must meet the Euro 6 standard and petrol engines Euro 4. In broad terms Euro 6 applies to vehicles registered from 1st September 2015 and Euro 4 to those registered from 1st January 2006.
Road transport emissions in central London are expected to reduce by an additional 20 per cent in 2019 as a result of the early introduction of the ULEZ. This includes:
- NOx emissions from HGVs are expected to reduce by nearly 50 per cent.
- Coach and non-TfL bus emissions will reduce by more than a third.
- Emissions from cars and vans are expected to reduce by eight and 12 per cent respectively (it should be noted that while the reduction in emissions is smaller than for larger vehicles, their savings make up nearly one-third of the emissions reductions in central London).
- More than 30,000 people in central London (a 40 per cent reduction), and 100,000 people across London, will no longer live in areas exceeding the NO2 limits.
- 19 schools in central London and 42 schools across London will no longer be in areas exceeding legal limits in 2019 as a result.
- The ULEZ benefits should be even greater by 2020 with an estimated 45 per cent reduction in road transport emissions.
With pollution levels at illegal and very harmful levels in the centre of London, it is considered essential that steps are taken to reduce them. In addition to implementing the ULEZ 17 months earlier than originally planned, further measures are in the pipeline; by 2020 there will be a London-wide Euro 6 standard for lorries, buses and coaches. In 2021 the boundary of the ULEZ will be expanded to the North/South Circular roads.
These changes will have implications for many motorists (it is estimated that potentially 60,000 highly polluting vehicles could be taken out of the ULEZ each day) and fleet owners. Transport companies will need to refresh their LGV fleets to ensure Euro 6 compliance and manufacturers/distributors will be looking at their supply chain to ensure that there are no issues delivering into the nation’s capital.