Retrofit can help meet air quality regulations, says Zemo as London ULEZ expands

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Coinciding with the expansion of London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), the Zemo Partnership has said that one way for operators of larger vehicles to meet the challenge is to adopt approved vehicle retrofit solutions for cutting polluting emissions.

The new London ULEZ commenced operation on 25 October and will be 18 times the size of the current central zone, covering the area within the North and South Circular roads (though not these roads themselves) so will affect many more drivers and vehicle operators. The zone will operate every day, 24 hours per day, except Christmas Day, and is estimated to affect 138,000 vehicles. Transport for London says that the original central London ULEZ has seen air pollution reduced by half.

The UK’s first Clean Air Zone (CAZ) began operating in Bath earlier this year, with Birmingham following in June, and new CAZs are to be introduced in Portsmouth on 29 November and Bradford on 22 Janary, plus Oxford’s Zero Emission Zone pilot in February, followed by Bristol and Newcastle CAZs next summer. In many of these areas there are funds and grants available to support operators wanting to upgrade or retrofit their vehicles to reduce emissions.

The Clean Vehicle Retrofit Accreditation Scheme (CVRAS), jointly operated by the Energy Saving Trust and Zemo, identifies which CVRAS-approved companies and emission reduction systems suit vehicles best, based on make, model and engine type. It supports companies’ efforts to improve their fleets, and lists the only retrofit options available that comply with the regulations for the Ultra Low Emission Zone in London, Clean Air Zones and Scotland’s Low Emission Zones, all of which use the same vehicle standard thresholds.

The Zemo Partnership also recently published an updated Clean Vehicle Retrofit Technology Guide to highlight the role that the wide range of retrofit technologies can play in improving air quality by cleaning up the existing vehicle fleet. The guide gives vehicle operators and local authorities an understanding of national air quality frameworks for reducing roadside NO2 concentrations, providing case studies with examples of a range of accredited retrofit technologies that achieve Euro VI-equivalent levels of emissions through the CVRAS. The guide covers technologies accredited for buses, coaches, trucks, refuse collection vehicles and black cabs, and many are also applicable to vans and minibuses.

The Zemo Partnership’s Project Manager, Dan Hayes, said: “Retrofit solutions have been one of the key ’tools in the box‘ to help owners of existing vehicles meet the strengthening emissions requirements without completely replacing their fleet in one go.

“Twenty years ago the uptake of particulate traps was accelerated in this way and today, NOx reduction technologies (which are mandated on all new vehicles) are now available to be retrofitted to a wide range of commercial vehicles. With funding support available in many local areas, retrofitting can be an attractive option for hard pressed operators to clean up emissions from existing vehicles.”

The CVRAS Register can be found at and operators can check if a vehicle is compliant on Transport for London’s ULEZ Checker at

The ULEZ area is now vastly extended beyond the previous central London scheme. RICHARD SHARMAN