The issue of pollution in London is becoming ever more pressing. Figures published in a public consultation recently indicate that 79% of Londoners recognise the problem and believe that implementation of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULTZ) should occur in 2019, rather than in 2020 as planned. 71% of people surveyed also believe that the zone should reach out beyond central London and include the North and South Circular.
The London Mayor Speaks Out
The survey, carried out in accordance with Sadiq Khan’s wishes, clearly showed that residents of the UK capital were largely in favour of the Mayor pushing the government to implement a diesel scrappage scheme, while 81% of those asked were keen to get the £10 Emissions Surcharge (T-charge) brought forward. This is a charge put on vehicles coming into London that are considered the most polluting. This charge would be on top of the current congestion charge vehicle fee. For any fleet operators running vehicles with a pre-Euro 4 emission standard (any vehicle registered before 2005), these extra costs could incur a huge outgoing for the business.
The Mayor has a significant amount of backing among his fellow Londoners, who also seem overwhelmingly adamant that the government should do what it can to help implement these positive environmental changes.
What Is Happening Now?
The results of this public consultation are being considered by officials at City Hall. The next round of talks will take place before the end of the year and will include a more detailed proposal regarding the T-charge - before its implementation in 2017. Fleet operators and transport professionals need to take note.
Mr Khan is certain that the previous lack of effort to meet pollution targets has led to a critical problem in the city and he is determined that London’s toxic air should be cleaned up. It is reputed that 10,000 people every year die of a pollution-related issue. The schemes he is planning to initiate will be strict and probably the toughest of any other city scheme aimed at targeting polluting vehicles.
The Sceptical Voice
While bringing the ULEZ plan forward is a positive move, some have raised concerns that last minute adjustments will not give courier and haulage companies the time to make the necessary changes to their fleets. Companies in the industry could inadvertently be penalised, even though fleet operators had everything in place for making changes to their fleets based on the original proposed date of the ULEZ in 2020.
Other sceptics have said that the scrappage scheme requires more planning and there has been the suggestion that instead of being given £2000 to buy a new lower emission vehicle, people should be given vouchers for car sharing clubs. This would encourage people to only use a vehicle when necessary. The idea of incentives has also been raised; for example, why not offer people buying ultra low emission plug-in vehicles free parking and the use of bus lanes?
What Can Courier Companies Do?
Fleet operators and business managers need to stay abreast of what is going on so that they can make the necessary changes when they need to in order to avoid inflated outgoings. The move towards low emission vehicles has to come, so if you were planning to update your fleet for 2020, it is a good idea to revise things and look at bringing them forward.
The plans are not definitive yet, but the overwhelming support suggests that they could be.
Norman Dulwich is a correspondent for Courier Exchange, the world's largest neutral trading hub for same day courier work in the express freight exchange industry. Over 4,000 fleet operators and couriers are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe ‘wholesale’ environment.