Understanding The New Emissions Rule

Posted on 19th July 2017 By Charlotte Haye

Emissions are one of the ‘hot topics’ in the HGV world at the moment – what with the new emissions cheat tests being introduced and more manufacturers creating eco-friendly electric cars. But for any HGV driver whose route takes them into or through London, you could be facing yet another hurdle. You see, there are plans in place to bring in a new ultra low emission zone in 2019, which could have a big impact on the delivery and haulage business.


What Is The Ultra Low Emission Zone?

At the time of writing (July 2017), the ultra low emissions zone (ULEZ) doesn’t exist – just the low emissions zone. But by 2019, the ultra low emissions zone will be in full effect in many areas of London. This zone is described by Transport for London as “an area within which all cars, motorcycles, vans, minibuses, coaches and HGVs will need to meet exhaust emission standards (ULEZ standards) or pay a daily charge to travel.”. In other words, unless you meet the brand new exhaust emission standards (which are more strict than standard low emissions rules), you will be required to pay a fee of £10 per day to drive there. This zone will operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so there are no delaying deliveries to avoid it either. There is also the fact that the ULEZ will not replace the Low Emission Zone requirements – it simply adds to them, along with the congestion charges. Current plans detail the ULEZ to span the same area of London as the Congestion Charge Zone, with the same cameras being used to scan licence plates and identify vehicle details. Bottom line? It’s going to get very expensive to drive in London over the next few years.


How Do I Know If I Meet ULEZ Requirements?

Because ULEZ standards are different to the LEZ standards, you might be wondering how you can figure out if your vehicle will be caught out. Luckily, the Mayor of London has given us some guidance on this:  Petrol vehicles that don’t meet Euro 4 standards and diesel vehicles that do not meet Euro 6 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.” If you’re still not sure, the general rule of thumb is that any petrol car made before 2006 or any diesel car made before 2015 probably won’t make the cut. This means that motorists driving these older vehicles in central London will need to consider upgrading to newer, lower emissions vehicles or be faced with a daily charge of around £24 (when you add in the Congestion Charge).


What Does This Mean For HGV Drivers?

If you’re a professional HGV driver, you may be getting a bit concerned right now. For those permanently hired by companies, it won’t be quite so bad, because firms like this will either upgrade their fleet or absorb this new cost into their costings, or what they charge to end clients. But for self-employed HGV drivers working in the London area, or even needing to drive through central London, this could present a serious problem. It’s unlikely that they will have the resources to upgrade the vehicles to an ultra low emissions HGV, so this means facing the new charges. If you’re just going to go through central London on the odd occasion, maybe you aren’t too worried, but there is considerable concern for those more local to central London. But ultimately, we will have to wait and see.


Of course, low emission zones are designed to try and discourage people with older vehicles from driving in London, hoping to reduce the toxicity and pollution in the air and help the environment. So any HGV company looking to be ethically competitive or eco-friendly will see this as another positive step – which it absolutely is. But for those who are looking at their bottom line, you need to be taking steps now to make sure you’re ready for the change. For more information, get in touch with us today.

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