Thursday, December 21, 2017

As London Suspends Congestion and Toxicity Charges Other Cities Move Toward Clean Air Zones

Leeds and Sheffield to Introduce Restrictions on Road Haulage Freight Vehicles
Shipping News Feature
UK – First the good news, in London the Congestion Charge and T Charge will be suspended from Saturday 23 December until Monday 1 January inclusive. The daily charge will apply again from Tuesday 2 January. A Christmas present from the Mayor and TfL at last! In all seriousness the news will be welcomed to both private and commercial freight delivery drivers at this, the busiest time of year for many parcel deliveries (although the quietest for traffic in general). Tfl confirmed the arrangement to us, the 14th year the Congestion charge has been waived for Christmas but neither we, nor they, could find the announcement on their website!

The inexorable spread of Low Emission Zones and the like continues unabated however as Leeds City Council has announced that it intends to launch a consultation on a Leeds Clean Air Zone in January 2018 following on from agenda item 19 at a Council meeting on December 13. The council's favoured option is for all lorries of Euro V or earlier to be charged £100 when passing inside the outer ring road. The Road Haulage Association (RHA) says it is watching the situation carefully and has a planned meeting with the Council to discuss the plans.

Sheffield is also beginning a feasibility study into a Clean Air Zone for the area in 2018, again following a similar Council meeting on the same day. The Council’s criticism of the air quality and the government’s response to these are unequivocal, with a statement in the report saying:

”Government have delayed making any significant intervention on air quality but the UK has been breaking EU law on Nitrogen Dioxide (NO₂) gas since 2010. Levels in Sheffield reflect the national situation. We are in breach of EU limits which should have been met by 1st January 2010.

”DEFRA’s data indicates that Sheffield has roads where NO₂ level in 2017 exceeds the legal limit. NO₂ level on these roads in 2017 is 53μg/m³. 40μg/m³ is the legal limit. Fine particulate matter dust (PM10 or PM2.5) is also an issue for Sheffield because, although the annual averages are significantly below the EU threshold, the daily average level is higher on more days per year at some locations than is acceptable by EU standards. Crucially, in addition, there is no safe limit for this pollutant.

”Road transport accounts for 50% of the nitrogen oxides emissions, the most significant source of transport pollution is emissions from diesel vehicles.”

The RHA, whilst supporting the principle of clean air zones is critical of the speed and level of introduction, taking the view that the restrictions should include only those vehicles over 12 years old rather than the Euro VI currently registered vehicles which are out of reach for many small and medium sized haulage operators budget.

The RHA position appears in a comprehensive review of the problem ‘Accommodating Freight in Clean Air Zones’.