Cleaner Air due to London Low Emission Zone

Around a third of trucks over 12 tonnes operating in Greater London are significantly cleaner than they were one year ago, according to Transport for London’s (TfL’s) first monitoring report examining the impact of the Low Emission Zone (LEZ).

The required emissions standard of the Low Emission Zone is the Euro III standard for particulate matter which became mandatory for all new trucks, buses and coaches sold in the EU from October 2001. TfL will assume that a truck, bus or coach is Euro III compliant if it was first registered on or after 1 October 2001.

The report sets out the conditions prior to the start of the scheme on 4 February 2008 and provides a baseline against which the scheme impacts can be analysed in future.

It shows that 96% of vehicles affected by the first phase of the scheme, trucks over 12 tonnes, are compliant with the emissions standards of the Zone compared to 70% during 2007. A similar trend in compliance rates was observed in the build up to the introduction of the second phase of the scheme on 7 July 2008 to include trucks over 3.5 tonnes, buses and coaches. Compliance rates currently stand at 91%.

Using the network of cameras that have been put in place to monitor the scheme, TfL is able to measure changes in the emissions performance of affected vehicles and estimate the impact of the Low Emission Zone on air quality, public health and the economy.

TfL’s monitoring work uses innovative assessment methods to seek to isolate scheme-related effects from wider background changes, such as the vehicle replacement cycle.

TfL anticipates that the Low Emission Zone will:

• Reduce total road traffic related emissions of particulate matter (PM10) by up to 6.6% in 2012, with beneficial effects on other pollutants such as oxides of nitrogen (NOx).

• Reduce the area of Greater London with levels of PM10 that exceed the annual mean air quality objective by 5.8% in 2008 and by 14% by 2012, and for the area with excessive levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels to shrink by 5% in 2008 and by 20% by 2012.

• Over a ten year period, projections suggest that people who would otherwise die prematurely as a result of poor air quality will gain additional life expectancy totalling 5,000 years. Over the same period, lower levels of illness would mean a reduction of about 250,000 restricted activity days and more than 300,000 cases where respiratory symptoms are reduced in severity.

• Deliver benefits outside Greater London as many of the vehicles that will be modified or replaced carry out the majority of their mileage outside the Capital.

The Low Emission Zone was launched on 4 February 2008 and aims to improve London’s air quality by targeting the largest, most individually polluting diesel-engine vehicles. On 7 July the scheme was extended to include truck over 3.5 tonnes and buses and coaches over five tonnes with nine or more seats.