London’s new Low Emission Zone

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London’s new Low Emission Zone (LEZ) comes into effect on 3 January 2012 which requires larger vans, minibuses and other specialist diesel vehicles to meet ‘Euro 3’ emission standards.

Otherwise if these vehicles are driven within the LEZ they will have to pay a huge daily charge. Typically, Euro 3 vehicles are those registered after 1 January 2002, affecting those that will be 10 years old from January next year.

The LEZ will continue to apply to Heavy Commercial Vehicles (HCVs) but from 3 January 2012, the regulations will demand an increase from Euro III to Euro IV standards. Vehicles first registered as new on or after 1 October 2006 will meet the Euro IV standard, but the 2010 Motorparc shows that 32% nationally, and 29% in Greater London, do not meet the LEZ threshold.

New research by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has shown that of the 3.57 million vans on UK roads at the end of 2010, 31.1% were not eligible for London’s new Low Emission Zone. More surprising is the fact that London exceeded the national average with 37% of vans (almost 85,000) not meeting the emission standards.

Penalty charges are high: £500 for vans, pick-ups and 4×4 light utility vehicles between 1.205 tonnes unladen – 3.5 tonnes gross vehicle weight, motor caravans and ambulances 2.5 – 3.5 tonnes gross vehicle weight, and minibuses (with more than 8 passenger seats) 5 tonnes or less gross vehicle weight.

The penalty charge increases to £1000 for trucks more than 3.5 tonnes gross vehicle weight and buses and coaches more than 5 tonnes gross vehicle weight. All charges are halved if paid within 14 days.

“It’s not only emissions that improve when owners and operators upgrade, fuel efficiency also gets better, returning real-world benefits on top of the LEZ savings,” said Paul Everitt, SMMT Chief Executive. “SMMT anticipates a slight rise in commercial vehicle registrations in this last quarter of 2011 as owners and operators buy-into more efficient, compliant vehicles. The CV market has been strong all year and is up 20% for the year-to-date. It’s clear that those businesses and individuals running vans and trucks in the capital have already begun to renew their vehicles and we’ll be watching with interest how the market performs over the next few months.”

Transport for London provides further details and guidance on the London Low Emission Zone, the vehicles affected and options open to commercial vehicle operators at its website http://www.tfl.gov.uk/roadusers/lez/default.aspx

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