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London to introduce Ultra-Low Emission Zone in April 2019

London to introduce Ultra-Low Emission Zone in April 2019

The world’s first Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) will be introduced in central London from 8 April, 2019 - 17 months earlier than the previously announced 7 September, 2020 start date.

The ULEZ will cover the same area as the capital’s existing congestion charging zone. Petrol vehicles that don’t meet Euro4 emission standards and diesel vehicles that do not meet Euro6 emission standards will have to pay a ULEZ daily fee (£12.50 for cars, vans and motorbikes; £100 for buses, coaches and HGVs) to drive in the zone, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  

It means petrol cars more than 13 years old in 2019, and diesel cars more than four years old in 2019, are unlikely to meet the new standards. The total cost, with the congestion charge added (during the times of day it is applicable), for drivers with non-compliant cars will be £24 a day (£23 for congestion charge fleet auto pay customers).  

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has already confirmed the £10 T-Charge, which will start in October this year. He is now proposing, following a public consultation launched on Tuesday (4 April),that will be replaced by the ULEZ.  

Furthermore, the Mayor is proposing to extend the ULEZ across Greater London for heavy diesel vehicles, including buses, coaches and lorries, in 2020, and up to the North and South Circular roads for cars, vans, minibuses and motorcycles in 2021.  

In launching the consultation, the Mayor said he was committed to taking ambitious action to protect Londoners from the damaging health impacts of air pollution from toxic vehicle emissions.  

The ULEZ will apply to all vehicle types, except black taxis. It is estimated that introducing the initiative in central London will result in nearly a 50% reduction in road transport NOx emissions in 2020.

Once the Mayor has finished consulting on the current ULEZ proposals in June, he will start consulting on actions that will expand the scheme in 2020 and again 12 months later.  

The Mayor said that the planned timescales would provide Londoners, motorists coming into the capital from elsewhere and businesses which will be affected, sufficient time to take the necessary steps to prepare for the new standards. They also reflected the minimum amount of time needed for TfL to consult on and implement such technically complex schemes over such large parts of London.  

Mr Khan said: “The air in London is lethal and I will not stand by and do nothing. I am introducing a new T-Charge this October and subject to consultation, I want to introduce the ULEZ in central London in April 2019. This alone will mean the capital has the toughest emission standard of any world city.  

“But the scale of our air quality challenge is so big that I need to go further. I want to expand the ULEZ from 2020 for heavy vehicles such as buses, coaches and lorries so that all of London will benefit from cleaner air. Then from 2021, I want to expand it up to the North and South Circular roads for light vehicles, including cars and vans. These measures will help improve the air that millions of Londoners breathe.  

“I want to announce my intention to consult on these proposals in good time so that business and those affected by new charges will have time to make changes they need to adapt to our low emission requirements.”  

He also called on the government to “step up and match my ambition to transform the appalling air we breathe”.  

Mr Khan said: “Ministers need to deliver a national vehicle scrappage fund, reform fiscal incentives like Vehicle Excise Duty and pass a powerful new Clean Air Act to end the toxic smog in London once and for all.”

If a vehicle does not meet the ULEZ emissions standards and the daily charge is not paid, a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) will be issued payable by the registered owner or operator. The penalty would be in addition to any congestion charge or Low Emission Zone penalties received. For motorcycles, cars, vans and minibuses the penalty is £130 (reduced to £65 if paid within 14 days) and for HGVs, coaches and buses it will be £1,000 (reduced to £500 if paid within 14 days).  

The consultation on the start date of the central London ULEZ runs until 25 June. Other proposals will be consulted on later this year.  

John Chuhan, chief risk officer at vehicle leasing and fleet management company Alphabet, said: “As we predicted, 2017 will be the year when the changes around low and zero emission mobility - which have been discussed at length and predicted for so long - really start to be felt.  

“The announcement by London Mayor Sadiq Khan of his plans to bring forward the implementation date for the new ULEZ to 8 April, 2019 proves that electric vehicles and ultra-low emission vehicles are truly here to stay and their numbers are only set to rise.  

“For those business leaders mistakenly thinking that this is a ‘London-centric’ issue, the expected unveiling of new air pollution measures from Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom should demonstrate this is an issue for the whole UK, not simply the South East corner.  

“UK businesses, whether they are large corporates or SMEs, need to act now to ensure they are prepared for the drastic changes demanded by the sustainable, low emission future of transport. Simply ignoring the matter won’t make it go away and waiting until 2019 will be too late.  

“If organisations want to continue to access metropolitan areas to do business, avoid incurring significant additional costs, attract the next generation of talent and live up to their CSR commitments then they need to put measures in place now.  

“These include reviewing business travel, company car and LCV policies, understanding vehicle journey patterns for both private and business usage, putting plans in place to convert existing fleet to ultra-low emission vehicles where it’s appropriate, as well as the provision of a charging infrastructure at work, home and on the move.”  

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) called the ULEZ “troubling news” for small businesses and specialist hauliers serving London.   

Natalie Chapman, FTA’s head of policy for London and the South East, said: “We need to continue the improvement in London’s air quality which is happening anyway, but this regulation taking effect in 2019 will severely disadvantage small businesses working in the capital’s centre.  

“The impact will be especially hard for van users, as by 2019 there will only be two and a half years’ worth of compliant vehicles in the fleet - and no second hand compliant vehicles available for purchase at all.”  

Commenting on the expansion of the ULEZ in 2020 to Greater London for HGVs and to Inner London for vans in 2021, Ms Chapman said: “It is encouraging that this is not happening in 2019 as had been suggested: this shows the Mayor has listened to some of the concerns that had been raised.  

“But the expansions of the Zone will still increase the burden on business exponentially. We are calling for businesses based in the affected area to have access to a sunset clause, such as has been offered to private residents, allowing them greater time to comply with the change required without the need for unnecessary and potentially crippling additional charges for new vehicles.   

“At a time when London’s businesses face an increasingly challenging trading environment, the Mayor should be taking every possible step to help the capital’s small businesses, and we will urge through this consultation for more consideration to be given to those affected by the introduction of these new measures.”   

Road Haulage Association (RHA) chief executive Richard Burnett said:  “We all want a cleaner London. But don’t let the Mayor’s quest for clean air turn the nation’s capital into a ghost town.

“The thousands of restaurants, shops and tourist attractions that make London one of the world’s major tourist centres are massively reliant on an efficient delivery network. That must not be jeopardised.  

“Euro6 engine technology is, in effect, a clean air plant - the air that emerges from the exhaust is actually cleaner than the air that goes in. The majority of hauliers entering the capital on a regular basis are already using trucks that meet the Euro6 standard - but many are not.  

“They will be facing an additional £24,000 per year in fines. Many will be forced out of business while others will have no alternative but to pass the additional cost on to their customers. The knock on effect will be an increase in prices for consumers, including the millions of tourists that come to London each year.”  

The RHA said it would be pushing hard for the early implementation of a scrappage scheme as an incentive to those hauliers using pre-Euro6 trucks to buy the cleaner vehicles. Mr Burnett concluded: “To impose a £100 fine on those operators who simply cannot afford the new, cleaner engines will see jobs lost and hauliers put out of business.”