Ultra Low Emissions Zone start date to be brought forward

If you drive or operate commercial vans and vehicles, you may well already be aware of the Euro 6 regulation. Essentially, it’s a European regulation that controls the amount of harmful gases that vehicles can emit (both petrol and diesel). It’s a major factor in formation the Ultra Low Emissions Zone, a large-scale plan for London city centre by Mayor Sadiq Khan, which will impose heavy taxes on vehicles that don’t meet certain emissions standards. The main aim of this is to improve the city’s toxic air, which is way above safe levels. Originally stated to come into effect on September 2020, the ULEZ’s start date has recently been moved, which has meant a number of other changes which will affect a huge range of vehicles (including refrigerated vans and freezer vans).

What’s changed?

The Ultra Low Emissions Zone has actually been in the works for quite some time. The previous Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, had originally planned to introduce the scheme in September 2020, and for a while his successor (the current Mayor), Sadiq Khan, planned to adhere to this schedule. However, with progress on the ULEZ going better than expected, Mr Khan launched a public consultation on plans to start it in April 2019, a whole 17 months earlier than originally planned.

A precursor to the ULEZ is already in place – just recently in April of this year, Mr Khan introduced the Toxicity Charge (T-Charge) in central London, which is an extra daily charge on vehicles that don’t meet the minimum Euro emissions standards. The T-Charge is in addition to the congestion charge, and is designed to discourage the use of vehicles which are older or more polluting, motivating fleet managers to phase out their oldest vehicles while encouraging the general public to try walking, cycling or using public transport instead.

It’s worth noting, however, that all of our fridge vans and freezer vans here at CoolKit adhere to the Euro 6 standard, which means that if you purchase a vehicle from amongst our fleet, you won’t have to worry about either the T-charge or the ULEZ applying to your vehicles travelling around or through the centre of London.

row of refrigerated vans

From April 2019, the Ultra Low Emissions Standard will replace the T-Charge to place even tighter restrictions on vehicles which don’t meet the emissions standards. Unlike the T-Charge and congestion charge (which apply within certain hours on weekdays), the ULEZ will operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

How will the ULEZ affect commercial vehicles?

There are two charge levels for the Ultra Low Emissions Zone. A daily charge of £12.50 will apply to motorbikes, cars and vans, while that charge increases to £100 a day for lorries, buses and coaches. This means that the most dangerously-polluting cars, for example, would pay £24 a day, while the most polluting buses would pay £111.50 during congestion charge hours.

There’s also a sizeable difference in the number of vehicles that would be affected. Currently, the T-Charge applies to about 6,500 a day, whereas the ULEZ would affect about 60,000 each day. Petrol vehicles have to meet the Euro 4 standards, whereas diesel vehicles – due to a more harmful capability – are held to the even stricter standards of the Euro 6. Any that don’t meet those standards have to pay the charge on a daily basis.

What’s the reaction?

The reaction has been somewhat mixed in response to the Mayor’s most recent announcement. Organisations like the Road Haulage Association predict that commercial vehicles will be amongst those hardest hit, and the RHA – as well as the Confederation of Passenger Transport – have accordingly expressed their unhappiness at the news. They say it won’t give many members enough time to react to the deadline by gradually phasing out their oldest vehicles, and will impose heavy taxes on them in the meantime.

However, environmental and health campaigners are very supportive of the Mayor’s plan commitment to improving London’s air quality and public health. As a result, the Mayor’s office is already considering plans to extend the area of the ULEZ even further out into London. And with Manchester and Leeds following closely at the top of the country’s most polluted cities, perhaps the next question is: how long before we see an equivalent scheme up North?

Whatever you think of the Euro 6 regulation and the ULEZ, it’s never a bad time to start thinking about updating your fleet with the most environmentally-friendly models. Here at CoolKit we’ve recently fitted a new Renault Trafic panel van with a CoolKit Fridge Van Conversion, resulting in a compact refrigerated vehicle with a reliable performance. Meanwhile, our Peugeot Boxer Freezer Van is an endlessly popular choice amongst many of our customers, mainly due to its fantastic payload. Feel free to click on their respective links for more information, or give our team a call on 0808 278 4610 – we’re here to help!

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