Mayor hits hauliers with air pollution challenges


Newly-elected London mayor Sadiq Khan has dealt freight operators a triple whammy of tough air quality proposals for entering the capital, one week after taking up his position at City Hall.

A pending consultation will include a series of measures to drive down harmful emissions from road transport across the capital.

These include extendingthe Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) to the North and South Circular roads beyond its previously proposed reach within the Congestion Charging zone, as well as bringing forward its roll-out to before 2020.

This will mean all vans and trucks will need to be Euro-6 to avoid paying a daily charge of £100 for HGVs and £12.50 for vans to enter the ULEZ.

From 2020, these same standards will also apply to HGVs across Greater London.

Khan also proposes an extra charge on the most polluting vehicles entering central London using the Congestion Charge payment and enforcement system from 2017, although no details have been released as to the measure for this yet.

The FTA has slammed the proposals, saying they would add substantial cost to London businesses and may even put some smaller firms at risk of closure.

FTA head of national and regional policy Christopher Snelling said: “Freight operators and the service industry could find themselves being charged extra for their vehicles before they have had any reasonable chance to upgrade.”

He added that the tipping point where such regulations become less problematic is about eight years after the latest Euro standard has been introduced and between one-third and half of the fleet is compliant and a buoyant secondhand market has developed. However, for trucks, Euro-6 only came in less than three years ago, and for large vans it does not start until September this year.

Snelling added: “If we are to avoid increasing costs for consumers, businesses will need significant financial help to adopt these standards this early. It is imperative that the mayor looks at carrots as well as sticks.”

BVRLA echoed the FTA’s concerns over the new ULEZ timetable, which could punish a large number of companies that have already made fleet plans based on the original 2020 roll-out date.

O-licence revoked following drivers' hours and maintenance shortcomings

 

A scaffolding company that was “in denial” about the serious shortcomings in its compliance systems lost its O-licence last week.

Enfield-based MPH Scaffolding had its O-licence revoked from 21 May after the DVSA discovered a series of drivers’ hours and maintenance failings. Its director, Martin Hitchman, was also unaware of drivers’ hours rules.

The DVSA launched an investigation into the firm after an overweight truck with an insecure load was stopped by police in July 2015. A tachograph was not being used by the driver and the driver’s door had been jammed shut. 

The same driver and vehicle were stopped again the following month and a delayed prohibition was issued for loss of air in the braking system and a split wiper blade. The driver also failed to produce a tachograph card.

The DVSA found that the operator did not have any device to download digital cards or tachograph units; had not kept any maintenance records; had no driver defect reporting system; did not check that drivers had the correct entitlement on a regular basis; and had no forward planning system. Only one vehicle had passed its annual test the first time in the previous two years.

Hitchman told a public inquiry (PI) on 21 April that things had improved since the DVSA’s visit in November last year. He claimed tachographs units were being downloaded every 28 days; a third party was carrying out maintenance inspections; drivers were completing daily defect reports; and licence entitlement was checked every few months.

But traffic commissioner for London and the South East Nick Denton found drivers’ hours offences were still being committed and drivers were not using the mode switch to record breaks correctly.

Hitchman admitted that he thought his vehicle tracking system was enough to monitor drivers’ hours and appeared to believe that the drivers’ hours rules related only to driving time. He relied on the transport manager, who was employed three weeks before the PI, for knowledge of the rules.

The preventative maintenance inspection sheets showed a long list of vehicle defects, including some that should have been picked up by drivers such as inoperable lights and fuel leaks.

Hitchman said it was difficult to get his drivers to take compliance seriously.

Denton said the operator had been slow to take action and many of the improvements Hitchman had put in place since the DVSA’s visit were “far too little and far too late”.

Denton said: “I find that the seriousness of the non-compliance detected and the length of time for which it has persisted mean that the company deserves to go out of business.

“Rather than being willing to learn and make further improvements, Hitchman came over as aggressive in response to anything that suggested there might still be shortcomings.

“If he wishes to apply to operate HGVs in the future, I would expect him to have first completed an O-licence management course and show far greater knowledge than he has done today.”

 

  • This article was published in the 19 May issue of Commercial Motor. Why not subscribe today?