On the 4th February London became a Low Emission Zone – the largest of 50 in Europe. That means any diesel lorry over 12 tonnes which does not comply with strict European Union limits on particulate emissions from its exhaust will have to pay a penalty of €268 per day for entering within the M25. And that’s just the start of it.
Operators of vehicles over 3.5 tonnes, along with buses and coaches, have until 8th July this year to get compliant, the scheme being further extended to cover large vans and minibuses in October 2010.
Few would disagree with the health benefits to Londoners that should follow, but there are questions relating to the costs of such a scheme and as to whether such draconian measures are really needed.
The set-up cost for placing cameras around the zone linked to a data base of vehicles registered as meeting EU requirements has been put at €76m, with running costs expected to be €14.3m a year. But then, income is expected to be only €7m – €15m a year. The UK Freight Transport Association’s head of policy for London, Gordon Telling, put the costs at ‘around a quarter of a billion pounds – £100m [€134m] of operator costs and £130m [€174m] of London taxpayers’ money’. Londoners will be paying through the nose for cleaner air. Is this really necessary?
All lorries manufactured after October 2001 automatically comply with the Euro 3 standards of particulate emissions of 0.05g per kilometre, the level adopted by the scheme. Are not remedial measures already in place that would bring about the same result over time? And although these standards will rise in the future, would it not be better to encourage lorry owners through grants and tax incentives to upgrade their fleet or introduce filters to non-compliant lorries?