Industry anger as Sadiq Khan presses on with early ULEZ in London

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The London Ultra-Low Emission Zone will be implemented on April 8, 2019, 17 months early, against CPT and RHA consultation responses

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has announced that the city will go ahead with an early introduction of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) on April 8, 2019.

The previous Mayor, Boris Johnson, had proposed to introduce the scheme in September 2020, but the new Mayor launched a consultation on plans to start it on April 8, 2019, around 17 months earlier than originally intended.

The change means that from April 8, 2019, all cars, motorcycles, vans, minibuses and heavy vehicles driving in central London that do not meet the emissions standards will be required to pay a daily charge in addition to the Congestion Charge. The ULEZ will operate 24 hours a day, every day of the year, including weekends and public holidays.

A further statutory consultation is to take place later on this year on proposals to widen the zone up to the north and south circular roads for light vehicles (cars, motorcycles, vans and motorcycles) and London-wide for heavy vehicles (lorries, coaches and buses).

The Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) Coaching Manager, Andy Warrender, commented: “CPT is concerned that the introduction of ULEZ for London in April 2019 – 17 months earlier than originally planned – will not only have a detrimental effect on day-to-day coach operations, but also to the capital’s visitor numbers over the coming years. The early introduction could also have potentially serious repercussions for London’s tourism economy.

“The original planned ULEZ start date of September 2020 was already going to be a tough ask of operators, and the early introduction will leave very little time for the production of new vehicles or approved retro-fit systems which will come anywhere near to meeting the demands of those vehicles entering London.

“CPT will be working closely with the Mayor’s team over the next 17 months and a meeting with Val Shawcross to again raise our concerns is already planned for later this month.

“We have continued to support the push for cleaner air in the Capital but are concerned that if these proposals are not introduced carefully, then they will have the opposite effect. Coaches are the solution – not the problem.”

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) said it was outraged at the news. RHA Chief Executive, Richard Burnett, said: “The Mayor and TfL have ignored our advice and will now bring the Central London ULEZ in 17 months early. This flies in the face of common sense, and our consultation response.

“Since the early introduction of the ULEZ was first proposed, we have pushed hard for a phased approach that will improve air quality and maintain the economy of London.

“We are concerned that the ULEZ charge will cost many hauliers £100 per day, and that’s in addition to the other charges they already pay. More than half the GB lorry fleet will not be Euro 6 when the ULEZ is introduced. Bringing the date forward by 17 months is little more than a means of quickly bringing in revenue to cover the Mayor’s other plans for the city.

“The trucks being penalised are responsible for delivering London’s economy. They fill London’s shelves with food and the other goods we depend on, and many are already powered by ultra-low emissions vehicles. This industry is already doing all it can to meet air quality standards, but the acquisition of new vehicles has been planned on the previous Mayor’s original dates. Lorries last about 12 years, so to announce a 17 months early adoption of the scheme is not giving operators sufficient time to phase out older vehicles and replace them with Euro 6.

“It appears that the Mayor has decided that ULEZ will become London-wide for heavy vehicles in the very near future. However, it is essential that a realistic implementation date and appropriate phasing is established.”