Budget 2013: September fuel duty increase scrapped

The chancellor George Osborne has scrapped the fuel duty increase scheduled for September in the Budget today.

He told MPs in the House of Commons that he had "listened to the people we represent" - singling out the work of FairFuelUK supporter, Robert Halfon MP, and would scrap the proposed fuel duty rise.

He explained that the Treasury had forgon £6bn of revenue as a result of scrapping a total of 13ppl in fuel duty over the past two years.

The Road Haulage Association tweeted in response: "RHA pleased that September's increase in fuel duty is cancelled. But we are STILL paying the highest levels fuel duty in Europe."

Halfon blogged after the Budget: "I am delighted. This was a cost of living Budget. It puts fuel in the tank of the British economy."

Vosa to simplify LGV roadworthiness test

Vosa is planning to simplify the annual LGV roadworthiness test by stopping measuring exhaust smoke opacity, and reducing the need to jack up front axles to check wheel-play.

However, new testing techniques being developed on the Continent could soon catch out trucks that have had their engine management systems remapped.

The current exhaust emissions check during the annual test measures only smoke opacity, which is an approximate guide to the level of particulates

Vosa said stringent European emissions standards had resulted in fewer than 0.5% of trucks failing their annual test because they breached the smoke opacity limit. It plans to downgrade the smoke test to a visual check due to this.

The opacity meter will be used to check marginal cases that have a Reduced Pollution Certificate.

Free wheeling

Regarding wheel-play, Vosa said the presence of detector plates built into many test lanes meant that it is no longer necessary to jack-up a truck’s steer axle to test for excessive wear in wheel bearings or steering pivots and bushes.

“Jacking may be required in some circumstances so we cannot eliminate jacking entirely,” Vosa said.

Changes ahead

Despite this, a big change in testing is in the pipeline: the identification of more sophisticated emissions testing equipment that will either interface with vehicles’ on-board data or be capable of measuring both oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and particulate matter at the tailpipe.

This could be similar to the portable emissions measurement systems (PEMS) that will be used to verify the in-service compliance of Euro-6 engines.

Vosa said stricter emissions checks could cause problems for LGVs that have had their engine management systems remapped or chipped. These modifications can upset the delicate balance between NOx and particulates, leading to excessive NOx emissions  beyond original type approval limits, which the new system would identify.

No date for ending either axle-jacking or smoke opacity testing has yet been fixed.