Friday, February 24, 2017

Cars and Vans to be Hit by Extra Emission Charges in London from October

Freight Transport Group Supports Move to Spread the Load
Shipping News Feature
UK – This month London Mayor Sadiq Khan announced the intention of expanding the emissions charges, currently only levied on larger commercial vehicles, to cars and vans. The new toxicity charge, known as T-charge, is to be introduced from 23 October 2017 and will apply to diesel and petrol-powered vehicles that do not meet the Euro 4 standard on emissions introduced 11 years ago. This means vehicles manufactured before January 2005 will generally be subject to a further £10 levy on top of the £11.50 congestion charge already in force.

The new measures announced followed the record air pollution levels in the city as monitored throughout January 2017 resulting in London being put on ‘very high pollution alert’ for the first time ever. The prime culprits were said to be diesel vehicles as the cold and stationary weather fronts failed to clear toxic pollutants and particulates from the busy streets.

The mayor’s announcement also confirmed that the ultra low emission zone (ULEZ) will be expanded in 2019 across Central London, a year ahead of schedule with a cost of £12 per vehicle in which case the T charge would be waived. Despite the effect on small hauliers using vans for express and courier works the announcement was welcomed by the Freight Transport Association (FTA), whose Head of Policy for London, Natalie Chapman, commented that, whilst the LEZ adjustment was a fair result, the changes to the ULEZ gave cause for concern to road haulage operators, saying:

“It is incumbent on all of London’s road users to work together to reduce emissions in the capital, to help improve the city’s air quality. The freight industry has been meeting tougher emissions standards for nearly ten years, with transport companies complying with the London-wide Low Emission Zone. The announcement brings cars and the small minority of older more polluting vans and trucks into line with the LEZ requirements, and will undoubtedly benefit Londoners in health terms.

“At FTA we are constantly working with government and our members to improve air quality nationwide through considered environmental policies, and will be encouraging the small number of commercial operators that may be affected to check if their vehicles comply. The Transport for London website has all the necessary data, and we would urge operators to take action quickly, as they have little more than eight months to prepare for the zone’s introduction.

“The Ultra-Low Emission Zone is going to have a far bigger impact on the freight industry as a whole, especially if the Mayor decides on an earlier start date than the original plan of 2020 and widens out the geography of the zone beyond the Congestion Charge area. FTA is particularly concerned about the effect its introduction will have on van operators, not least because the new Euro 6, the ULEZ standard, was introduced for new vans registered from last September.

”This means that vans which are little more than two years old could be banned from the capital’s roads, which will put a strain on London’s supply chain and cause financial hardship for many SMEs across the region. FTA will continue to negotiate with the Mayor’s office to ensure that our members can keep London moving, while maintaining improvements in the capital’s air quality.”

For anyone concerned as to whether their car or van will be affected by the changes in October there are several sites to help. TFL’s own LEZ page may be of assistance whilst we assume the page which tells if a specific vehicle will be subject to the charge will presumably be updated prior to October. In the interim readers may find information here of some use.

Photo: The 5 day smog which blighted London in December 1952 marked a sea change in attitudes to pollution