The government is tackling air pollution in London with the introduction of the new Ultra Low Emission Zone in the capital (ULEZ).
From 8th April 2019, vehicles driving through central London will face charges for doing so if they do not meet the ULEZ standards. This new charge, which will run 24 hours a day, will coincide with the congestion charge, currently £11.50 and will cover the same areas.
Cars, vans, and motorbikes will be charged £12.50 to travel within the zone with a £150 penalty for driving without paying. Large vehicles, buses, lorries and coaches will face a charge of £100 per day with a fine of £1,000 for non-payment.
Cars most likely to incur a charge will be diesel vehicles pre 2015 and petrol pre-2006.
The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan believes the scheme is necessary in order to improve the current high levels of toxic air pollution in the capital, which is reported to contribute to 40,000 death per year.
Traffic is predicted to reduce by 5% and Transport for London expects a 45% reduction in harmful emissions in the capital within one year.
The zone will spread to the north and south circular from October 2021.
So what impact will this have on your fleet? For all businesses who have vehicles traveling through the zone with vehicles that do not meet the ULEZ standards, there will be a cost implication. How big the cost will be will be dependent on a number of factors.
The obvious solution would be for companies to upgrade existing fleets with newer, cleaner vehicles. However, many businesses are reluctant to upgrade their fleets due to uncertainty around whether there will be changes in the future with regard to vehicle standards, leading to further costs and more upgrades.
One option that many businesses are taking is to upgrade some of their oldest vehicles with cleaner vehicles and using these for routes within the zones.
One strategy delivery companies are considering using is to use older vehicles to transport goods to drop-off points just outside of the zone. From the drop-off point, a new clean vehicle will collect the goods and transport them through the charging area. This will reduce the cost of changing the entire fleet whilst allowing businesses to operate within the zone.
It is predicted that small businesses will be most affected by the scheme and the Mayor has introduced a £23M scrappage scheme to help small businesses (businesses with 10 or fewer employees), replace old vehicles with new cleaner vehicles.
There is also concern that many businesses are unaware of this new scheme and will not be prepared in time for its introduction. To ensure you are ready and to check whether your vehicles will incur charges, follow the link below:- https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/driving/ultra-low-emission-zone/vrm-checker-ulez