London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone ‘punishing’ hauliers, says RHA

London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone ‘punishing’ hauliers, says RHA

The Road Haulage Association says that the Mayor of London’s Ultra-Low Emission Zone is punishing the very industry responsible for maintaining the economy of the nation’s capital.

The Central London ULEZ, which came into force today, is the centrepiece of a range of hard-hitting measures the Mayor has implemented to tackle London’s air quality. It will operate alongside and in the same area as the current Congestion Charge. 

There will be two ULEZ charge levels: £12.50 a day for cars, vans and motorbikes and £100 a day for lorries, buses and coaches. Trucks not meeting the current Euro VI standards will now be fined £100 per day to deliver goods in central London. 

According to RHA, the average working life of an HGV is 12 years so for many operators replacing their Euro V trucks with the cleaner engine Euro VI models (effective since September 2014) is out of the question. 

“Hauliers still running Euro V trucks are caught between a rock and a hard place,” said RHA Chief Executive, Richard Burnett. “Profit margins are already tight – a charge of £100 per day to deliver into London will completely wipe out their already tight profit margins and make new vehicle acquisition impossible.

“Approximately 188 thousand HGVs deliver into London each year – many making daily deliveries – but only about 50 percent meet the latest emission standards. If they are priced off London’s streets then the businesses they service will in turn have no choice but to increase their prices. It’s a lose, lose situation.

“We sincerely hope that London hauliers unable to replace their older vehicles will not be footing the bill used to fund the Mayor’s scrappage scheme set up to help charities and smaller businesses to switch to lower emission vehicles.”

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) said ULEZ would damage small businesses while delivering limited air quality improvements.

“FTA recognises and supports the legal obligation to improve air quality and supports the principle of a low emission zone,” says Natalie Chapman, Head of Urban Policy at FTA, “but we question the effectiveness of the scheme in improving air quality as it is not a new standard. Instead, it is just bringing forward the fleet replacement cycle at huge cost to many small businesses and operators of specialist vehicles. Operators and vehicle manufacturers have already led the way with investment in cleaner technologies through developments in engine standards. This has helped in reducing levels of key pollutants more than 20-fold over recent years.

“When businesses buy new vehicles, it is not the purchase price they need to consider, but how long they plan to run them for and what they will sell them for when they are finished. The ULEZ means that for many businesses, the timeframe in which they had planned to sweat their assets has reduced and the residual values of Euro 5 vehicles have plummeted. So not only have they got to stump up for new vehicles sooner than they had planned, they have the double whammy that they have also lost out financially on the vehicles they are replacing.”