Sometimes it can seem like a minefield trying to keep up with the rules and regulations of being an HGV driver. But, don’t worry, we’re here to keep you up to date with all you need to know every time you jump in the cab.
Each month, we’ll cover a different area of compliance – from licenses, hours and charges, to maintaining roadworthiness. This month, we’re going to look at the hot topic of vehicle emissions.
As the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) comes into force this month (8 April 2019) in central London – charging drivers of older, more polluting vehicles to enter the congestion zone area at any time – what do you need to know about vehicle emissions across the UK?
ULEZ is one of a number of environmental schemes being introduced in major UK cities, as part of plans unveiled by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to introduce five Clean Air Zones (CAZs) in England by the beginning of 2020.
A Clean Air Zone is an area targeted by local authority where measures are needed to improve air quality and address sources of pollution. In addition to the capital, the creation of CAZs will initially be in Birmingham, Derby, Leeds, Nottingham and Southampton, and is part of the Government’s broader Air Quality Plan. So, what are the plans?
Under the plans introduced this month, Transport for London (TfL) hopes to reduce the number of polluting cars in the capital and estimates about 40,000 vehicles will be affected every day.
Most vehicles which are not compliant will have to pay £12.50 for entering the area each day, in addition to the congestion charge. However, buses, coaches and lorries will need to meet or exceed the Euro 6 standards or pay £100 a day.
So, what are the Euro 6 standards? In a nutshell, it’s the most demanding EU standard to date on the reduction of emissions from commercial vehicles. As compared with Euro 5, test cycle particulate emissions are reduced by 66 per cent and nitrogen oxide emissions (NOx) by 80 per cent.
This is one to watch. To date, Birmingham City Council is still considering how its Clean Air Zone will operate, which vehicles will be charged to enter the zone, and where it will cover, although it’s expected to be at least part of the city centre.
Like Birmingham, Derby City Council is still in discussions with key stakeholders to iron out plans for its Clean Air Zone.
Leeds City Council is slightly ahead of its counterparts in Birmingham and Derby, and will introduce a Clean Air Zone on 6 January 2020. The zone, which will cover more than half of Leeds and charge the operators of vehicles up to £50 per day to enter the district, aims to reduce air pollution in the city by encouraging businesses to transition to cleaner, less polluting vehicles that won’t be subject to charges.
The Council has received £29 million in funding from the Government to provide a range of support packages for businesses based or primarily operating within the CAZ boundary. Only owners of the worst polluting HGVs, coaches, buses, taxis and private hire vehicles will be subject to charges.
Nottingham City Council is another city on the ‘watch list’, but its Clean Air Zone will run in parallel with other measures designed to improve the city’s air quality. These include an ‘Eco Expressway’ prioritising electric buses, a Go Ultra Low Nottingham scheme intended to encourage the uptake of Ultra Low Emission Vehicles, and new cycle routes.
In January 2019, plans to introduce a non-charging clean air zone in Southampton were unanimously approved by councillors.
The scheme, which will remove the most polluting taxis and impose new rules on buses, aims to bring air quality to within legal levels by 2020. It was criticised by campaigners after plans to charge vehicles were dropped. But the Council said it could meet Government limits through a "refined set of freight, bus and taxi measures".
For more information on this, or if you have any other questions on compliance, contact us today.