London’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone has been in the works for a few years now, and we’ve actually covered it before on the blog here at CoolKit. The scheme is now drawing closer to its launch date though, so we thought we’d give you a bit more insight into how it works, and how it’ll affect your fleet (whether you use standard vans or fridge and freezer vans just like those we stock here at CoolKit). Smaller businesses are projected to be most likely affected, so if you’re the owner or employee of an SME, it’s especially worth a read!
The plan for the Ultra Low Emissions Zone in London was first put together with the aim of cutting emissions of nitrous oxides and particulates in the city. Specifically, its ultimate goal is to improve the air quality in a city where thousands are estimated to die annually directly as the result of poor air quality. One of the ways the ULEZ intends to do this is by discouraging the use of older and therefore more polluting vehicles inside the capital. Owners of an affected vehicle will have to pay a daily charge to enter the Zone, and it’ll replace the existing T charge when it comes into effect. Unlike the existing Congestion Charge, the ULEZ will operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. And yes, these two costs can stack, so you could potentially have to pay both of them together in a single day.
The ULEZ is due to officially launch on the 8th of April. After that, though, it’s going to be implemented in several stages, gradually expanding to cover a greater area over time. It will initially be separate from the Low Emission Zone, which is currently in operation, and covers most of Greater London. However, from 26th of October 2020, it will be merged with the existing Low Emissions Zone, as the LEZ will be upgraded to match the standards of the ULEZ. Then, from 25th October 2021, the ULEZ will expand again to cover all existing central London zones within the inner city, right up to the North and South Circular roads.
There is no single classes of vehicle or vans which are exempt. In fact, any vehicle which is not up to the Euro 6 standard will be affected. Official estimates peg the vehicles affected at around 2.5 million driving into the capital each year. That means Euro 5 HGVs, buses and coaches, and generally any vehicles made before 2013 or 2014, will be affected by the ULEZ. It also applies to pre-Euro 6 diesels (those built before 2016) and pre Euro 4 petrols built before 2006.
The ULEZ is set at a standard rate of £12.50 per day. This is in addition to the Congestion Charge (£11.50). This means that both charges together can mean that certain costs entering London between 7am and 6pm may have to pay up to £24.
Another important thing to remember about the cost of the ULEZ is that the charge runs from midnight on to midnight on the following day. Therefore, if you drove your refrigerated van at 11pm on a Monday and then at 1am on a Tuesday, you’d have to pay twice. The ULEZ will be enforced by cameras, which will check the number plate and check if motorists have paid. Any affected drivers who forget to do so will face a fine of £160, though this will be reduced to £80 if paid within 14 days.
Anyone driving a vehicle heavier than 3.5 tonnes and doesn’t meet the ULEZ Euro 6 standard will need to pay £100 per day on top of the usual congestion charge. It’s not difficult then, to see why some critics say it will target small business owners, and people with similarly small fleets of vans like refrigerated vehicles.
Above all else, one of your prevailing tasks should be to make sure that your engine meets the standards set by the ULEZ. We’ve talked here about the Euro 6 standards, and why it’s so important to meet them. That article mentions 2020 (which was true at the time of writing) but since then progress on the scheme was doing so well that the start date has actually been brought forward, hence the start date of April 8th 2019. Beyond that, it might be worth just seeing if you can re-route your nationwide journeys around the capital rather than through it, if you can, or organise your vehicles so that only the newest ones are tackling deliveries etc inside the capital.
Here at CoolKit, all the vehicles we stock are actually Euro 6 compliant – everything from our freezer vans to our refrigerated vans, so we’re the perfect choice to help you get your fleet up to date. You can take a look around our site to see which ones appeal, or give our friendly team a call on 0808 250 9648 and we’ll be happy to give you any advice we can!