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The London Low Emission Zone - What It Means For Haulage Workers

Feb 14, 2008
The London Low Emission Zone has now officially come into effect. Quite a few readers will doubtless be asking what it is, what it does, and how it will effect haulage companies and owner operators if media reports of the public being unaware of its existence are to be believed.

Well, Haulage Exchange to the rescue, because here's a quick rundown of everything you need to know about the London LEZ!

What is the LEZ?

For those of you that don't know LEZ stands for Low Emission Zone. In London, the scheme has just been introduced to reduce pollution, and it extends to the entirety of greater London - an area of 610 square miles. To enter the London Low Emission Zone, vehicles must either meet specific emission standards or pay a daily fee of 200. Unlike the congestion charge, which charges motorists to use inner city London roads during business hours, the LEZ will be in operation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

When does the LEZ start?

Technically, the London LEZ has come into effect already for haulage vehicles with a weight exceeding 12 tonnes, but due to the majority of haulage firms having no knowledge of the new laws, haulage industry workers have been given extra time to ensure their lorries meet the Euro III vehicle standards. Firms have been granted an additional 28 days to make their vehicles green.

Lorries between 3.5 and 12 tonnes will be included from 7th July 2008, with large vans between 1.205 and 3.5 tonnes following on 4th October 2010.

In 2012, the legislation will become stricter, and all vehicles previously affected by the law will need to be compliant with Euro IV vehicle standards.

Does my haulage vehicle meet the Euro III/Euro IV standards?

The Euro vehicle standards relate to the amount of particulates emitted by the vehicle. As a general rule, any vehicles registered with the DVLA on or after the 1st October 2001, they are assumed to be Euro III compliant.

Euro IV compliancy is more recent, and only vehicles registered as new on or after the 1st October 2006 are assumed to meet these requirements. This level of greenness is not required until 2012, however.

If your haulage vehicle was purchased before these dates, you will either need to modify them to meet the standards, or pay the LEZ fee when working in London.

Why do we need the LEZ?

The LEZ is being brought in to counter the air pollution of the capital. London is well known for being a highly polluted city, and it is estimated that half the air pollution is a result of transport. London mayor Ken Livingstone believes that the move will not only reduce overall emissions 16% by 2012, but will also cut down on the 1,000 annual hospital admissions and 1,000 premature deaths caused by low air quality.

How much do haulage companies and owner operators need to pay?

Vehicles registered and not meeting the green standards will have to pay a massive 200 per day to enter the zone. If an unregistered vehicle enters the LEZ and does not meet the emission standards, the driver will be fined a hefty 1,000 (reduced to 500 if paid within 2 weeks.)

Vehicles entering London from abroad will have their fines chased by an international debt recovery agency.

How is the London LEZ enforced?

The London Low Emission Zone is set to be enforced using a 54m setup involving Automatic Number Plate Reading Cameras.

Any vehicle entering or driving in the LEZ will be checked against the DVLA to check whether the vehicle has had the required work carried out.

What about cars, motorbikes, vans, buses, coaches and emergency vehicles?

Cars, motorbikes and small vans remain unaffected by the London LEZ in its current form.

Buses and coaches exceeding five tonnes, and lorries, motor caravans and horseboxes between 3.5 and 12 tonnes will be required to pay from 7th July 2008.

In the final part of the LEZ scheme, from the 4th October 2010, large vans and horseboxes between 1.206 and 3.5 tonnes, motor caravans between 2.5 and 3.5 tonnes, and minibuses below 5 tonnes will also be included, though with a half price daily charge of 100.

Ambulances and large hearses will also be included - the London Low Emissions Zone applies to all vehicles in the size bracket, regardless of whether they are for public or private usage.

Unsurprisingly, its something our members are beginning to grumble about, and it will only increase as more haulage vehicles are encompassed by the London Low Emissions Zone. For the moment though, it's best to be aware of the restrictions so you can avoid the heavy fees levied for vehicles in the capital. My (slightly biased) advice to all concerned about the LEZ is to join a freight exchange, and swap loads to either make paying 200 a day worthwhile, or to take on work exclusively away from London to avoid the charges altogether.
About the Author
Luke Davies is the Loads Manager for Haulage Exchange Exchange Group. The exchange is for the heavy freight and logistics industry and offers back loads to owner operators and haulage companies all over the UK.
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