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Final countdown to London low emission zone

FTA PRESSURE FOR LOW EMISSIONS CERTIFICATES YIELD £10 MILLION OF OPERATOR SAVINGS. The Freight Transport Association says that with only 50 working days remaining before the implementation of the London Low Emission Zone (LEZ), many operators have still not got their fleets ready. On 4 February 2008 all vehicles over 12 tonnes will have to meet the Euro 3 standards for particulate matter (PM10). Vehicles over 3.5 tonnes come into the scheme on 7 July, along with buses and coaches (over 9 seats). The standard can be met by using vehicles bought since October 2001, when the Euro 3 standard became the norm, or by having the vehicle fitted with a particulate trap.

A third option, which is helping lots of operators, is the Eligible Engines List.

The Eligible Engines List shows a number of older engines that were built under earlier standards but nevertheless have very low levels of particulates. Any vehicle that is on the list can have an additional VOSA smoke test, either as part of the MOT or separately, and get a Low Emissions Certificate (LEC). The LEC is valid for a year – the same as a Reduced Pollution Certificate – and allows operators to use the vehicle in the Low Emission Zone without further charge.

So far over 2,000 LECs have been issued by VOSA, representing an enormous saving in reduced compliance costs of over £10 million. Although there have also been around 400 test failures, these are largely down to poor preparation or putting forward vehicles which are not eligible for LECs.

The Low Emissions Certificate came about through lobbying by FTA and its partners. The aim was to get recognition for the decades of innovation by vehicle manufacturers to build engines as clean as possible to minimise the impacts on the communities in which they were operating.

Gordon Telling, FTA's Head of Policy for London, South East & East of England said, 'Whilst we have never made a secret of our opposition to the introduction of the Low Emission Zone, believing that there are better ways to improve air quality, we have made every effort to explore how to reduce its impact on our members and the industry as a whole. The work by FTA on getting a Low Emissions Certificate scheme in place shows how our engagement with TfL has produced results. We already see savings to industry of over £10 million and we are expecting to see that figure at least double over the coming months.

'One FTA member, operating a fleet of refuse vehicles, found itself facing a huge bill for upgrading 19 of their heavy vehicles. Working with FTA and an abatement equipment installer, the final outcome has been the upgrading of five trucks and the issuing of Low Emissions Certificates for the other 14 – a saving of £70,000 from initial estimates.

'I cannot stress enough the importance of checking the Eligible Engines List to see if upgrades are really needed. The list is available through FTA's website www.fta.co.uk/lez where members can also access the FTA LEZ compliance guide.'

Progress in reducing emissions has been made over the last 15 years. Euro 1 represented the end of black smoke from diesel exhausts and the progress since then has continued such that 30 Euro 4 vehicles today will only emit the same particulates as one Euro 1 vehicle in 1993. Particulate level, which is the visible part of the exhaust emissions, was reduced by over 80 per cent from dark haze to achieve the Euro 3 level. Levels reduced by a further 80 per cent to achieve Euro 4 emission levels. Euro 5, from October 2009, will not require any further reduction in carbon monoxide or particulates but will require a 43 per cent reduction in NOx.

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