The Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) is to be introduced into London in April 2019 – 17 months earlier than planned – meaning that any trucks that do not meet Euro 6 standards will have to pay more than £100 per day to enter the capital.
However, the Road Haulage Association (RHA) has hit out at the decision, with its chief executive, Richard Burnett, branding it as little more than a “tax grand” by London mayor Sadiq Khan.
Last month, Khan introduced the new Toxicity Charge (T-Charge) in central London to help deter the use of older more polluting vehicles in the build up to the ULEZ.
From April 2019, the ULEZ will replace the T-Charge and operate in the same area, alongside the Congestion Charge (C-Charge) but, unlike the T-Charge and C-Charge, which are only in place on weekdays, it will operate 24 hours a days, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
There will also be two ULEZ charge levels: £12.50 a day for cars, vans and motorbikes and £100 a day for lorries, buses and coaches. These charges will be in addition to the C-Charge, so the more polluting cars and vans would pay £24 per day and trucks £111.50 during C-Charge hours.
All revenue raised will be used by Transport for London (TfL) to help maintain a greener transport fleet and reduce pollution across the transport network.
The London Mayor’s Office reckons that the ULEZ will affect up to 60,000 vehicles every day, compared to the estimated 6,500 a day affected by the T-Charge. Diesel vehicles that do not meet the Euro 6 standards and most petrol vehicles that do not meet the Euro 4 standard will have to take action or pay.
The early introduction of the ULEZ is expected to reduce road transport emissions by an additional 20% – including reducing NOx emissions from HGVs by nearly 50% – according to the Mayor’s Office.
However, the RHA is concerned about the affect this will have on hauliers. “The Mayor and TfL have ignored our advice and will now bring the Central London ULEZ in 17 months early,” said Burnett. “This flies in the face of common sense, and our consultation response. Since the early introduction of the ULEZ was first proposed we have
pushed hard for a phased approach that will improve air quality and maintain the economy of London.
“We are concerned that the ULEZ charge will cost many hauliers £100 per day, and that’s in addition to the other charges they already pay. More than half the GB lorry fleet will not be Euro 6 when the ULEZ is introduced. Bringing the date forward by 17 months is little more than a means of quickly bringing in revenue to cover the Mayor’s other plans for the City.”
The RHA believes that more time is needed before the ULEZ is introduced to enable a higher proportion of the truck fleet to be Euro 6. The organization also believes that Euro 5 trucks – which will only be 5-9 years old in 2019 – should not be excluded.
“The trucks being penalised are responsible for are responsible for delivering London’s economy, they fill London’s shelves with food and the other goods we depend on, many are already powered by ultra-low emissions vehicles,” Burnett added. “This industry is already doing all it can to meet air quality standards. But, the acquisition of new vehicles has been planned on the previous Mayor’s original dates. Lorries last about 12 years, to announce a 17 months early adoption of the scheme is not giving operators sufficient time to phase out older vehicles and replace them with Euro 6.
“It appears that the Mayor has decided that ULEZ will become London-wide for heavy vehicles in the very near future. But it is essential that a realistic implementation date and appropriate phasing is established and adhered to. The current approach will lead to the use of more vans, will increase congestion and will undermine the economic wellbeing of the city. Given the switch to vans, there is even a strong possibility that the Mayor’s plans could make air quality worse.
“Hauliers and the people and businesses of London should not be penalised by this retrospective regulation that is little more than a tax grab by the Mayor.”