London Mayor Green Lights World’s Largest Low Emission Zone
9 May 2007
The Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, approved plans from Transport for London (TfL) for the implementation of a London-wide Low Emission Zone (LEZ) to cut emissions from the most polluting trucks, coaches and buses.
The LEZ sets a minimum threshold of Euro 3 compliance for medium- and heavy-duty diesels to enter London free of charge, with a phased-in implementation beginning in 2008. Non-compliant vehicles entering the LEZ would pay a daily fee of up to £200 (US$400). The threshold can be tightened to Euro 4 in 2012.
The emission standards for the LEZ are based on Euro standards for all four regulated pollutants, rather than for particulates (PM) only.
Should an operator of a non-compliant vehicle not pay the daily charge for driving within the LEZ, then following the service of a penalty charge notice (PCN), a penalty charge of £1,000 (US$1,994) will apply for trucks, buses and coaches and other relevant vehicles over 3.5 tonnes, reduced to £500 if paid within 14 days.
The LEZ will operate using cameras to identify registration numbers of vehicles driving within Greater London. Database searches will identify a vehicle’s emissions standards, whether it is liable for a charge and if that charge has been paid.
TfL estimates that two thirds of all trucks and half of all buses and coaches driving in London would be compliant with the 2008 LEZ standards without any changes to current fleet management programs. The LEZ is aimed at encouraging the remaining dirty vehicles to get cleaned up.
The scheme, which was one of the Mayor’s key manifesto commitments, is the first in the UK and the largest in the world. There are significant differences between this plan and London's Congestion Charging Zone. (Earlier post.)
It applies to all of Greater London, not just the Congestion Charging Zone.
It is in effect 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
It does not apply to cars, only to medium- and heavy-duty diesel-engined vehicles.
There will be very few exemptions or discounts, and no partial discounts.
Whereas the majority of qualifying vehicles which drive within the Congestion Charging Zone have to pay a charge, the majority of vehicles affected by the LEZ will not pay a charge because they will have demonstrably met the minimum emissions standards set by the order.
The purpose of imposing a charge is not primarily to reduce congestion and improve journey times for drivers and users of public transport as well as give rise to other benefits as with the Congestion Charging Zone; but rather to deter high-polluting vehicle use and provide an incentive to operators to upgrade their vehicles.
In order to deter the most polluting vehicles, it is necessary to set both the charges and the penalty charges considerably higher than in the case of the Congestion Charge. Thus the daily charge for a high polluting larger van or minibus will be £100 and for a high polluting HGV, bus or coach £200, a level of charge high enough to act as an incentive to adapt or renew the vehicles in question. At the same time, this charge is not so high as to impose an intolerable burden on those operators who need to make a very occasional visit to London and for whom the cost of adapting or renewing vehicles would otherwise be disproportionate.
The LEZ is not designed to counter climate change—I have announced other measures in that respect, as set out in my Climate Change Action Plan. With this order I am concerned with the problem of poor air quality for all those who live or work in and visit London, a problem which not merely makes ordinary living unpleasant, but can also make it dangerous. It is clear from the many studies that have been carried out that the LEZ will achieve important improvements in local air quality in London, and also bring worthwhile health benefits, reducing the risk of respiratory and cardiovascular problems. I do not pretend that the LEZ comes cheap; nor is it intended to raise revenue. I am, however, satisfied that the benefits should exceed the costs.—Mayor of London Ken Livingstone
Beginning in February 2008, the LEZ charge will be applied to trucks over 12 tonnes. From July 2008 trucks, buses, coaches, motorcaravans, ambulances and hearses between 3.5 tonnes and 12 tonnes will also be charged. From 2010 the Low Emission Zone will include heavier diesel-engine light goods vehicles and minibuses. The lightest vans (under 1.205t unladen weight) will be excluded from this stage as they have car-like emissions.
Transport for London estimates that 350,000 LGVs and minibuses in this category come into London each year, but that more than three-quarters will already be compliant with the LEZ, leaving a minority of fleet owners who will need to put in place new plans to comply.
The Euro 3 standard became mandatory for all new trucks, buses and coaches sold in the EU from October 2001 and for all new vans and minibuses sold in the EU from January 2002. Transport for London would assume that a lorry, bus or coach is Euro 3 compliant if it was first registered on or after 1 October 2001, or 1 January 2002 for vans and minibuses.
Euro 4 became mandatory for all new trucks, buses and coaches sold in the EU from October 2006. Transport for London would assume that a lorry, bus or coach is Euro 3 compliant if it was first registered on or after 1 October 2006.
London currently suffers the worst air pollution in the UK and some of the worst in Europe. Poor air quality worsens asthma and also causes the premature death of more than 1,000 people each year. The most recent survey of Londoners, carried out by Ipsos Mori, found that 72% of Londoners are worried about pollution from traffic exhaust fumes.
It is estimated that by 2012 the Low Emission Zone will deliver reductions of around 16% in the area of London where the air quality exceeds European Union pollution objectives, and will deliver more than £250 million (US$499 million) of health benefits.
(A hat-tip to John!)
The Mayor’s Transport and Air Quality Strategy Revisions: London Low Emission Zone (Revised following consultation)
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