Plan Insurance Blog

Fleet operators PANIC over imminent ULEZ introduction

A warning is being issued to Sadiq Khan surrounding the ‘damage’ set to be caused to fleet businesses by the imminent launch of the ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ).

With strict air quality laws set to be introduced on 8th April 2019, the Freight Transport Association (FTA) have chosen to publicly probe the Mayor of London’s decision, with concerns around the harsh consequences for many fleet owners, who have been incapable to accommodate the ruling in time.
Freight Transport Association Head of Urban Policy Natalie Chapman said:

“FTA recognises and supports the legal obligation to improve air quality and supports the principle of a low emission zone,”
“but we question the effectiveness of the scheme in improving air quality as it is not a new standard. Instead, it is just bringing forward the fleet replacement cycle at huge cost to many small businesses and operators of specialist vehicles. Operators and vehicle manufacturers have already led the way with investment in cleaner technologies through developments in engine standards. This has helped in reducing levels of key pollutants more than 20-fold over recent years.”
She continued:
“When businesses buy new vehicles, it is not the purchase price they need to consider, but how long they plan to run them for and what they will sell them for when they are finished.  The ULEZ means that for many businesses, the timeframe in which they had planned to sweat their assets has reduced and the residual values of Euro 5 vehicles have plummeted.  So not only have they got to stump up for new vehicles sooner than they had planned, they have the double whammy that they have also lost out financially on the vehicles they are replacing.”

Following fleet operator concerns about the financial strains of switching to emissions-compliant vehicles, the Mayor of London introduced a grant scheme back in December, intended to ease these fears. This scheme offered London-based businesses (with ten or less employees) a grant in exchange for scrapping vans that would not meet ULEZ compliance levels.
Sharing her thoughts on this decision, Chapman said:

“With little more than two and a half years’ worth of compliant vans in the fleet, there is no established second-hand market for Euro 6 vans, so FTA is glad to see support for the smallest businesses through proposals for a van scrappage scheme,”.
“These are businesses which would be hardest hit by any sudden changes in operating compliance. FTA will continue to argue for limited sunset clauses for operators based inside the expanded zone which may need more time to meet the requirements, while not endangering positive overall progress on air quality.”

TfL Director of City Planning, Alex Williams, came in staunch defence of the ULEZ policy and shared his thoughts on the wider impact of its inception:

“Air pollution is a public health crisis – it hits the poorest Londoners hardest and is leading to thousands of premature deaths every year and children with underdeveloped lungs. The central London ULEZ will significantly reduce the amount of polluting vehicles driving within central London. After one year we expect harmful NOx emissions in central London to reduce by 45%.
“We are working hard to ensure Londoners are prepared for the ULEZ and believe that our large-scale communications campaign and the support we are offering them will help London’s small businesses be ready for the ULEZ in April.
“As part of this, we have worked hard with the business community to support their ULEZ preparations and carried out extensive consultations, with many businesses already making the move to comply with ULEZ. We have directly contacted more than 3,000 small businesses and are working with London’s business groups to reach thousands more. We are also finalising a £23m van scrappage scheme, which will help small businesses replace their polluting vans with new cleaner ones. These measures to make the city’s air cleaner will improve the health of all Londoners and make the capital a more attractive and thriving city.”

With the Launch of ULEZ set to go live in under two months, expect more news to follow from the policymakers, the most affected parties and those who predominantly drive in the restricted areas for business.