Wednesday, April 6, 2016

ULEZ Means Freight Trucks Over Four Years Old Banned from London After September 2020

Ultra Low Emission Zone Will Please Many But Cost Small Road Haulage Groups Dear
Shipping News Feature
UK – When back in 2014 we wrote about the forthcoming Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) which will take effect in London from September 2020, we told how the Freight Transport Association (FTA) was pressing Mayor Boris Johnson for incentives for road haulage outfits to increase the appeal of switching to more modern Euro VI trucks immediately, rather than waiting for the incoming legislation. Both we, and the FTA, believed perhaps somewhat naively that this was a rather good idea, taking older, more pollution prone lorries off the roads sooner rather than later.

Sadly of course we again face the realities of bureaucracy as the details of the new ULEZ regime are released. No incentives were forthcoming for early adoption but NO HGV currently on the road will be able to enter the Zone legally when it becomes law without incurring a charge. Let’s say that again – NO truck driving on the road today will be allowed on these roads for free. Any truck or indeed diesel powered large van or minibus (Category N1) registered before September of 2016 will be subject to a charge, lorries £100 and N1 vehicles £12.50 for every day they travel in the zone.

The bad news does not stop there. The Zone will be within the same area as the current Congestion Charging Zone but, unlike that zone, charges will apply 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. Residents within the zone will get a three year grace period if they live within the zone up to 2023 when, after September of that year, they will become liable for 100% of the daily ULEZ charge to drive a vehicle in the zone if it does not meet the ULEZ standards.

A full list of which vehicles are chargeable can be seen here toward the bottom of the page. The scheme will doubtless produce very mixed reactions as, although it promotes a very worthwhile cause intended to sweeten the city air and is therefore important to all, the practicalities of every haulier called upon to deliver or collect in the country’s busiest commercial centre having close to hand a virtually brand new vehicle costing tens of thousands of pounds, seems a little fanciful.

As we have both witnessed, and indeed proved, those in charge of these schemes can at times seem more interested in the revenue to be gleaned, rather than the realities of freight transport, despite this being specifically denied on the Transport for London (TfL) website. We recently pursued the case of a German haulier who had received multiple fines for entering the current LEZ, all of which arrived at his door in a batch and referring to dates some months before.

The haulier was unaware of the necessity to register before entering the zone and had done so several times before he discovered details of the scheme. Having taken the exact details of his Euro VI class vehicle we entered an identical truck registered in the UK and were informed automatically that the vehicle was permitted entry without charge. Entering the German vehicle’s details produced the opposite result and, when we pursued this, TfL stated free passage was not possible as they had no access to the German vehicle registration system. When we enquired how then had they traced the haulier to impose fines? Answer came there none.

Without recourse to a crystal ball it is not hard to predict that the closing months of 2020 will produce a bumper crop of fines for TfL, both from British hauliers unaware their vehicles are non-compliant and foreign truck drivers ignorant of the new regulations. Other beneficiaries will surely be the truck (and car) manufacturers and a cynic might say they detect a hidden agenda here to boost vehicle sales prior to the next General Election (diesel cars must be manufactured after September 2015 to be eligible).

The losers? Any small to medium sized haulier operating from, or with work within the capital, and with a list of clients all keen to take the cheapest option and unwilling to fork out for what will doubtless become a financial burden for the operator.