Thursday, July 31, 2014

Freight Transport Group Urges Cleaner London Trucks Sooner Rather Than Later

Incentives to Switch Modern HGV Fleets to Urban Cycle
Shipping News Feature

UK – Since Euro Standards were introduced in the early 1990’s to control the noxious emissions from diesel-engined HGVs we have witnessed a vast improvement in air quality in urban environments where their use is mandatory rather than using older trucks for day to day work. For new vehicles particulate emissions have dived 95% and NOx by 98% in just two decades. Now the Freight Transport Association (FTA) is pressing Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, to increase incentives for fleets which have invested in the new technology.

The FTA was responding to the Mayor of London’s criticism of EU and UK government policy, and its effect on pollution levels from diesel engine vehicles, by highlighting the substantial improvements that have been made as a result of the Euro standards and calling for incentives for operators who operate the latest, Euro VI, vehicles and posing the question – ‘Why wait until 2020 to reap the benefits of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ)?’ FTA’s Natalie Chapman, Head of Policy for London, explains:

“Fleets are already operating Euro VI HGVs, but if Transport for London (TfL) provided the right incentives, businesses would ensure that those vehicles are used in central London, the place which faces some of the worst air quality levels in the UK and Europe. TfL seems to be missing a trick here, by offering a discount for Euro VI commercial vehicles, they could ensure that fleets move their newest and cleanest vehicles to the capital giving those living and working in Central London some of the benefits of the ULEZ right now. The right incentives could lead to greater use of the cleanest vehicles.”

The FTA response comes after hearing Boris Johnson launch his new air quality manifesto in a speech in London this week, which called on the UK government and the EU to do more to reduce harmful exhaust emissions. He described the Capital’s plans for an Ultra-Low Emission Zone by 2020 as a ‘game changer’ and set out a route map for achieving compliance with EU air quality limits by 2020 (rather than 2030 as the UK government currently predicts). The Mayor announced plans for pre-Euro VI diesel cars and vans to pay an extra £10 for entry to the ultra-low emission zone in London by 2020. While HGVs will need to comply with Euro VI regulations to enter the ULEZ, it was not made clear what charges may be imposed on the commercial sector when using non compliance vehicles.

The FTA has taken this opportunity to urge TfL and the Mayor to offer a discount from the Congestion Charge for Euro VI commercial vehicles, to encourage use of these trucks in central London and give some of the anticipated benefits of the ULEZ earlier than 2020. The Alternative Fuel discount was scrapped in 2010, since then the only discounts available for the Congestion Charge are for cleaner cars, there are currently no incentives to encourage investment in cleaner commercial vehicles.