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Fleets 'foolish' if they flout ULEZ

Date: 16 November 2015   |   Author: Daniel Puddicombe

Fleets have been warned that they would be "foolish" to ignore London's Ultra Low Emission Zone plans, which aims to ease out older, more polluting vehicles from the capital, because they could face increased charges for running the non-compliant machines.

An RAC Business survey has found that just under one in four businesses (23%) would prefer to pay a daily charge rather than invest in upgraded vehicles that will comply with ULEZ areas such as the one planned for  London.

According to the survey, however, 8.5% of the 500 respondents claimed that they cannot afford to update their fleets, while 5% said they will have to operate their businesses outside the ULEZ to avoid the charge.

Meanwhile, 15% of those surveyed claimed the zone will spur them into investing in new technology such as electric or hybrid vehicles.

"It is a concern that there are a large proportion of businesses prepared to pay the charges instead of looking at alternative vehicles. A car making a daily trip would cost the business, or individual, an extra £3000 per year in charges," said RAC Business corporate sales director Jenny Powley.

Stephen Knight, environment committee member on the London Assembly, an elected body that holds the mayor of London to account, told BusinessCar: "The findings from the RAC Business survey are very worrying indeed.

"The objective of the ULEZ policy must remain to remove the oldest and most polluting vehicles from London's streets, rather than to generate additional revenue for Transport for London. If the proposed daily charges don't prove a sufficient deterrent to remove these vehicles from the zone, then it is, of course, very easy for a future mayor to increase the charges to a level that does provide that deterrent."

Knight added: "Fleet operators would therefore be very foolish indeed to think they can ignore the need to clean up their fleet by 2020."

Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for the mayor of London Boris Johnson told BusinessCar: "There is always a certain expectation for some to pay the daily fee, but we hope that as time progresses we will reduce the numbers doing this."

The zone will launch in central London on 7 September 2020, and will require vehicles travelling at any time to meet the new criteria, unlike the current congestion charge zone which operates between 7am and 6pm Monday to Friday. Non-compliant vehicles will have to pay a daily charge of £12.50 on top of the congestion charge.

Diesel cars and small vans must be Euro6-compliant and be registered from 1 September 2015 (five years old or less in 2020) to comply while petrol cars and small vans must meet the Euro4 criteria. Residents living in the ULEZ will have a three-year 'sunset period' where they do not have to comply with the emissions standards, which runs until September 2023.

"It may be five years before the first Ultra Low Emission Zone goes live in London, but the results of our research suggest there is still a lot of work to be done to ensure businesses are ready for the changes that could be mirrored across the country," Powley concluded.