Transport for London (TfL) is calling on the owners and operators of vehicles set to be affected when new emissions standards come in to effect in January 2012 to take action now and avoid fines.
The owners of around 150,000 vehicles will need to upgrade their vehicles to ensure they meet the new Low Emission Zone (LEZ) standards in a little over six months. The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, recently announced he has secured significant discounts off new vans and minibuses in an unprecedented package of financial deals for drivers set to be affected by these changes.
Air pollution is a serious health issue in London contributing to an estimated 4,300 premature deaths in a year with many more people, especially children and the elderly, having their quality of life adversely impacted by it. London also has to meet European legal standards for air quality.
The LEZ was introduced in 2008 and has been successful in delivering significant reductions in harmful vehicle emissions but the scheme now needs to go further to ensure London meets legally required air quality standards. The LEZ covers most of Greater London and operates 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
From 3 January 2012, the emissions standards for vehicles already affected by the LEZ will be tightened. Lorries, buses and coaches, and other specialist heavy vehicles will be required to meet a Euro IV standard for particulate matter (PM) to drive within the LEZ without paying a daily charge. Lorries, buses and coaches registered as new on or after 1 October 2006 will already meet the LEZ standards from 2012.
Also from 3 January 2012, larger vans, minibuses and other specialist vehicles will have to meet a Euro 3 standard for particulate matter in order to drive within the LEZ without charge. Vans and minibuses registered on or after 1 January 2002 will already meet the LEZ standards.
TfL estimates that the changes to the LEZ will broadly double the impact of earlier phases in reducing harmful particulate matter pollution in the Capital.
With six months to go until the changes take effect, TfL is urging affected vehicle operators to take action now, to ensure their vehicles meet the new standards in time either by cashing in on the upgrade deals available or taking other action such as buying a newer second hand compliant vehicle. Alternatively, a wide-range of approved abatement equipment is available, meaning operators do not have to replace their vehicle. However, TfL advice is to act soon as it can take up to three months to order and fit approved filters that ensure vehicles meet the new LEZ standards.
Speaking at a recent Licensed Private Hire Car Association general meeting, Sam Kennedy from TfL’s Low Emission Zone told attendees; “The Low Emissions Zone has massive fines. The aim of this is not to generate big revenues for TfL, I don’t want anybody to pay TfL any money, but they are set purposely high to encourage operators to actually update their vehicles and meet the standards.’
Owners of HGVs, buses and coaches that do not meet the required emissions standards by 3 January 2012, and who drive within Greater London will have to pay a £200 daily charge or risk a £1,000 penalty. Owners of larger vans and minibuses who do not comply with the new emissions standards will have to pay a £100 daily charge or risk a £500 penalty if they drive within Greater London. TfL would much prefer vehicle operators to meet the required standards, rather than have to pay a daily charge or risk a fine.
The Mayor has brought together major manufacturers (see below) to provide the owners of affected larger vans and minibuses with discounts or finance deals to make the purchase of new, cleaner vehicles more affordable. Eighty per cent of vehicles affected by the LEZ for the first time in 2012 are vans and offers from manufacturers in some cases amount to thousands of pounds off a new vehicle.
Vehicle owners can check online at tfl.gov.uk/lezlondon and use a vehicle checker tool to check whether their vehicle meets the emissions standards and find advice on what steps they can take to make their vehicle compliant.