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Quarter of businesses would prefer ULEZ fine than to upgrade vehicles

Date: 06 November 2015   |   Author: Daniel Puddicombe

One in four businesses would prefer to pay a charge than invest in upgraded fleets to operate in areas such as London's Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), new research has revealed.

According to an RAC Business study, a substantial number of businesses expect to be punished financially for driving non-compliant vehicles (those that don't meet the Euro 6 emissions standard) into the ULEZ, which is set to go live from 2020.

The research also found that only 27% of firms already run fleets that are ULEZ-compliant.

The zone will launch in central London on 7 September 2020, and will require vehicles travelling in the zone (see map, above) 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.

Diesel cars and small vans must be Euro 6 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 Euro 4 criteria. These vehicles will still have to pay the daily congestion charge, which stands at £11.50.

Non-compliant vehicles will still be allowed inside the zone, but will have to pay a daily charge of £12.50 on top of the standard congestion charge.

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.

According to the RAC, 8.5% of the 500 respondants said they cannot afford to upgrade their fleets in order to avoid the charges, while 5% said they will have operate their businesses outside the ULEZ zone.

However, 15% claim the zone will spur them into investing in new technology such as electric or hybrid vehicles.

"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," said RAC Business corporate sales director, Jenny Powley.

"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 £3,000 per year in charges," she added.

"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," a spokeswoman for the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, told BusinessCar.