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London Low Emission Zone Starts 4 February

The new Transport for London Low Emission Zone scheme comes into force next Monday 4 February and the Freight Transport Association is concerned that as many as 10,000 vehicles working in and around London may not yet be compliant. Vehicles which do not meet the required low emission levels face the prospect of paying a £200 per day charge or a penalty of £1,000.

The scheme initially requires vehicles of over 12 tonnes to meet Euro 3 emission standards for particulate matter in order to operate freely within the area bordered by the M25. It is estimated that each day some 50,000 vehicles are used to deliver goods and services to businesses and consumers within the Greater London area. However, it is possible that as many as 10,000 vehicles and their operators either do not meet the required standard or, despite efforts from the transport industry and from Transport for London, are still not aware of the scheme.

Operators of vehicles between 3.5 and 12 tonnes still have until 8 July to get compliant. There are a number of options available, including applying for a Low Emission Certificate, modifying the vehicle with a particulate filter or buying a compliant vehicle. Operators who do not take their vehicles into London are nonetheless recommended to check the Eligible Engines List (to get a Low Emission Certificate) as it may entitle operators to a reduction in Vehicle Excise Duty (VED).

FTA’s Head of Policy for London, Gordon Telling said, “Londoners are entitled to cleaner air and all of us operating vehicles, whether they are cars, buses, taxis, or commercial vehicles, should do all we can to reduce emissions. However, this scheme achieves very little that would not have been achieved anyway as the result of enhanced EU engine standards. This means that Londoners, and lorry operators, are having to pay an enormous price – around a quarter of a billion pounds – £100 million of operator costs and £130 million of London taxpayers’ money – for a trivial improvement in air quality. The biggest pollution from traffic in London comes from cars and the scheme does not apply to them.”

“So we now have a massive and costly infrastructure of signs and cameras in place and a substantial cost to Londoners and lorry operators for a minimal benefit. This money could have been far better spent on grants or other incentives for the introduction of vehicles and equipment which actually would make a worthwhile improvement.”

Progress in reducing emissions has been made over the last 15 years. Euro 1 represented the end of black smoke from diesel exhausts and the progress since then has continued such that 30 Euro 4 vehicles today will only emit the same particulates as one Euro 1 vehicle in 1993. Particulate level, which is the visible part of the exhaust emissions, was reduced by over 80 per cent from dark haze to achieve the Euro 3 level. Levels reduced by a further 80 per cent to achieve Euro 4 emission levels. Euro 5, from October 2009, will not require any further reduction in carbon monoxide or particulates but will require a 43 per cent reduction in NOx.

EU engine standards limits were introduced for new vehicles registered as follows:

Euro 0 – October 1991 – no limits specified

Euro 1 – October 1993 – PM limit 0.621 g/kWh, NOx 8 g/kWh

Euro 2 – October 1997 – PM 0.25, NOx 7

Euro 3 – October 2001 – PM 0.1, NOx 5

Euro 4 – October 2006 – PM 0.02, NOx 3.5

Euro 5 – October 2009 – PM 0.02, NOx 2

Details of the Low Emission Certificate and the Eligible Engines List are available from TfL or from