London Mayor Boris Johnson has dropped plans to bring in tougher emission limits for commercial vehicles when Phase 5 of the Low Emission Zone is implemented in 2015.
Under the original plan, there would have been tighter controls on levels of NOx. However, Johnson said, a key reason for proposing changes to phase five was that it had emerged that Euro vehicle standards have not actually reduced NOx emissions for vehicles operating in urban environments to the level that was forecast. NO2 levels would therefore not have been reduced as planned under the original proposals for phase five.
As a result, the phase 5 will now only apply to Transport for London’s fleet of buses.
Johnson expects to save around £350m in costs for businesses using vehicles that would have been affected by the changes.And he argued that a range of alternative measures could deliver around 200 per cent of the benefits forecast by the original proposal for phase 5 of the Low Emission Zone.
Johnson also announced his intention to create the world’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone in central London. He has asked Transport for London to prepare plans to look at introducing a scheme that would aim to ensure all vehicles driving in the centre of the capital during working hours would be zero or low emission, and the feasibility of introducing such a scheme from 2020.
The phase 5 decision has been welcomed by the Road Haulage Association. Policy director Jack Semple, said: “We do not have the exact details but it appears that the Mayor’s announcement reflects many of the points for which the RHA has argued strongly in meetings with Transport for London.
“Our case has always been to leave the regulations surrounding HGVs as they are and put any investment into improving buses. These have big diesel engines which are running (and therefore polluting the atmosphere) most of the time and spend their working life the London area.
“In terms of goods vehicle specification for 2020, we would want to see details of what is proposed. There is much work to be done in analysing the performance of different technologies and until that is completed it will not be possible to have a clear view of their relative merits. Electric, hybrid, gas and dual fuel are options that are currently being looked and hydrogen will be on the scene by then also. But we should not underestimate the excellent, low-pollution performance Euro VI diesel engines for HGVs are expected to deliver.”