Early Ultra Low Emission Zone start date puts recovery operators at risk


The decision to drag forward the launch of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in central London could be “devastating” for recovery operators, according to the FTA.

Mayor Sadiq Khan’s announcement to create the ULEZ in April 2019 - more than a year and a half earlier than previously planned - has left specialist transport operators concerned that it will create a shortage of firms able to deal with breakdowns in the capital.

Khan told MPs last week it had created a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the emergency services, listed as the police, the fire service and the London ambulance service.

“With them we have a separate MOU, so we can make sure we are not inadvertently making them speed up their procurement to meet an artificial deadline or pay fines when they should not,” he said. However, the MOU does not cover recovery vehicles.

Stephen Smith, director at Boleyn Recovery in Barking, said: “It’s a challenge, that’s a polite way of saying it.

“My business plan is based on 10-15 years. For me to start building a new plan based on renewing vehicles that are three or four years old will have a massive impact on my business.

“The other barrier is when I buy a vehicle it can take an average of 15 to 18 months. You’re buying a chassis off the shelf, but then there’s a specialist body builder involved. Potentially there will be a shortfall in vehicles I tend to use in London.

“Our fleet is not old, it’s just been made non-compliant by the powers that be.”

FTA head of policy for London, Natalie Chapman, said there were a number of other sectors operating in London that would also be hit by the ULEZ plans.

“One of the things we are calling on the mayor to do is look at mitigating measures for businesses particularly affected, like specialist vehicle operators and small fleets and who are based within the zone themselves.”

Commenting on the latest announcement by the mayor that he is now consulting on expanding the ULEZ across London for HGVs from October 2020 (see box), Chapman said recovery operators needed to respond.

“We are stressing to all members but particularly those with small specialist fleets is to respond to the consultation and tell TfL what the impact will be,” she said.

“Spell out what your business plan is. There’s an assumption that fleet replacement is five years but clearly there are a lot that won’t be. What we have done so far is point out the sectors and businesses the mayor needs to pay particular attention to, but we need businesses to voice their concerns directly.”

ULEZ to go London wide in 2020

Launching a consultation on plans to extend the ULEZ for HGVs from 26 October 2020, mayor Khan called on Londoners to let him know what they think of his plans “to clean up our lethal air”.

“Following the successful introduction of the T-Charge, and confirmation of the central London ULEZ, I am moving ahead with the next stage of my plan to expand the Ultra-Low Emission Zone up to the busy north and south circular roads,” he said.

Trucks that do not meet the Euro-6 emissions standards by these dates will pay a £100 daily penalty for coming into London.

The extended ULEZ will include all vehicles eventually, with petrol powered cars and vans required to be at least Euro-4. 

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