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London low emission zone let freight industry lead

The Freight Transport Association has urged Transport for London (TfL) to embrace leading edge business best practice in its response to the consultation on the London Low Emission Zone scheme. It is concerned that the proposed London-wide LEZ is going to be complicated for both industry and TfL to operate and will not give the air quality improvements London needs. FTA points out that the Mayor’s plan targets the freight industry whilst other major sources of pollution, specifically cars, which account for 94 per cent of vehicles in London, are missing from the scheme altogether.

From February next year, if TfL’s proposals go to plan, trucks which do not meet Euro III levels of Particulate Matter (PM) will be banned from the whole of Greater London. However, it has emerged that potentially thousands of Euro I & II vehicles (built as early as 1992) which comply with Euro III PM standards will continue to be allowed in, making a nonsense of any of TfL’s remaining environmental claims. These older vehicles are unlikely to meet current Euro standards on other pollutants such as Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx) and Carbon Monoxide (CO). Moreover, with global warming at the top of the current political agenda, the scheme also misses out on the opportunity to tackle carbon emissions.

FTA’s Head of Policy for London, South East and the East of England, Gordon Telling said, ‘FTA recognises and supports the Mayor’s legal obligation to improve air quality. However, we want industry to have the freedom to innovate and be a major part of the solution – we are leaders, not laggers!’

FTA has reiterated its proposals of a rolling age scheme of eight years for goods vehicles, with potentially a 12 year limit for coaches and 10 year limit for vans.

‘It would be far simpler and cheaper to administer both for vehicle operators and for TfL,’ said Gordon Telling. ‘It would also allow for significantly greater air quality improvements than the scheme set out at present, giving Londoners the overall health benefits they rightly deserve.’

FTA is also not yet convinced how TfL will effectively enforce foreign vehicles which do not comply with the scheme requirements as there is no practical penalty recovery mechanism in place. Once again it is likely that foreign operators will both flout the law and gain competitive advantage over compliant UK operators.

A copy of FTA’s consultation response is available from FTA press office on 01892 552253.

Transport for London’s plans for the Low Emission Zone do not make direct reference to the EU engine standards known as Euro 0 through to Euro 5. However, the particulate matter standards demanded are identical.

Progress in reducing emissions has been made over the last 15 years. Euro 1, best described as having a dark haze on full load, 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. They 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.

EU engine standards were introduced for new vehicles registered as follows:

Euro 0 – October 1991 – no limits specified
Euro 1 – October 1993 – PM limit 0.621 g/kWh, NOx 8 g/kWh
Euro 2 – October 1997 – PM 0.25, NOx 7
Euro 3 – October 2001 – PM 0.1, NOx 5
Euro 4 – October 2006 – PM 0.02, NOx 3.5
Euro 5 – October 2009 – PM 0.02, NOx 2

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