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Why ultra low emission zones should bring forward your vehicle replacement programme

The London Mayor, Sadiq Khan has recently announced the extension of London’s proposed ‘Ultra Low Emission Zone’ to include Haringey, Greenwich and Brent; the extension will apply from 25 October 2021.

This represents a major adjustment to arrangements currently in place and changes already announced for 8 April 2019. The changes previously announced will see the replacement of London’s ‘Low Emission Zone’ where vehicles not meeting Euro 4 emission standards pay a ‘T (Toxicity) Charge’ of £10.00 per day when entering the Congestion Zone being replaced with an ‘Ultra Low Emission Zone’ where restrictions will be imposed on all but the most modern vehicles (Euro 6 emission standards). The new announcement represents a significant expansion of the area currently covered.

The inclusion of many more London boroughs within the ‘clean air’ initiative is simply a further acceleration towards the total elimination of vehicles deemed to be most responsible for air pollution. The speed of change is being influenced by the courts who are being charged with ensuring that the UK Government meets its international obligations. In these circumstances the usual political practice of ‘kicking into the long grass’ controversial decisions is not freely available.

So far as light commercial vehicles are concerned only the Euro 6 engine will be exempt from restrictions in ultra-low emission zones and larger vehicles will require the Euro V1 levels of emission. Furthermore, the cost of a non-compliant vehicle entering an ultra-low emission zone is set to rise significantly to £100 per day for light commercial vehicles and to £200 per day for large vehicles.

It is often said that where London leads other parts of the Country follow and certainly this is true in respect of clean air initiatives. In England, Brighton, Nottingham, Oxford and Norwich have already identified low emission zones within their boundaries and are currently investigating the degree to which they might replicate the arrangements applying to London. A number of other local authorities have been allocated Government funding to implement low emission zones. These include Aylesbury, Bath, Birmingham, Bradford, Horsham, Leeds, Lewes, Maidstone, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, Reading, Sheffield, Southampton, Warwick, Waverley and York.

The message is therefore clear; to avoid a prohibitively high financial charge for vehicles entering a large, diverse and growing range of towns and cities, fleet operators need to move quickly to ensure that their vehicles meet the highest possible emission standards. Many vehicles will need replacing and a contract hire agreement provides the means by which the immediate investment necessary can be achieved whilst spreading the cost of acquisition and maintenance throughout the period the vehicle will be operational.

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