London’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) will be extended to cover the entire capital later this month, after the High Court backed the plan.
This means all tradespeople operating within the M25 face the prospect of a £12.50 daily charge if their vehicle doesn’t comply with the emissions standards.
Graham Conway of Select Van Leasing, believes that whilst ULEZs are a step in the right direction in terms of lowering CO2 emissions in congested cities, the strain on tradespeople in the capital must be at the forefront of minds.
“The implementation of London’s Ultra Low Emission Zones (ULEZ) will have a significant impact on SME tradespeople in particular, as they will now be required to pay high fees for driving their vehicles within the designated zones. This fee can cost up to £12.50 per day in a time where the cost of living crisis is already having a crippling effect on many individuals.
“In August, the ULEZ will extend to cover all London boroughs, making it 18 times larger than it is currently. This will be a huge financial burden on many small businesses and independent tradespeople who absolutely rely on their vehicles to perform their work.
“As a rough rule of thumb, most petrol vehicles under 16 years old, or diesel vehicles under 6 years old, already meet the emissions standards. Electric vehicles are exempt from the London ULEZ. The vast majority of hybrid vehicles will also already meet the standards demanded by ULEZ.
“But it still leaves tens of thousands of drivers with older vehicles now having to face an added cost burden. A report commissioned by Transport for London has estimated that 30,000 non-compliant vehicles pass through the ULEZ each day.
“Meanwhile van and car owners who are looking to buy less-polluting vehicles are also now being hit with a ‘price penalty’, as the cost of ULEZ-compliant vehicles soar. AutoTrader suggests some motorists are being charged more than £3,000 more for ULEZ-compliant cars and vans compared with models that are a year older, and which don’t meet the CO2 emissions regulations.
“In short, van and car drivers are being hit from all sides.
“To soften the blow, there’s an ULEZ van and minibus scrappage scheme – but it’s still limited in scope. It’s there to help sole traders, micro businesses or charities with a registered address in London, to scrap or ‘retrofit’ a van or minibus that does not meet the ULEZ emissions standard. For a regular car, you can receive a grant of up to £2,000. For vans and minibuses, it’s between £5,000 and £9,500.
“That cash is helpful, but when you consider that the UK’s most popular new van – the Ford Transit Custom – begins at around £30,000, it’s easy to see that the scrappage grant will only go so far.
“One potential solution to the ULEZ problem – if you drive an older vehicle and you think you might be affected – is to consider leasing a less polluting new van or car.
“As the TfL website points out, if you were to drive a vehicle that doesn’t meet the emissions standards in the ULEZ zone once a week, it’d cost you as much as £650 per year. That money might be better spent on a new van or car lease instead.
“All in all, tradespeople aren’t blind to the issues of climate change. We all realise we need to do our bit and global warming is an extremely pressing issue which we all need to address.
“But when many van drivers absolutely need to cross the city in order to carry out their work, it’s unfair that they’re among the hardest hit by the ULEZ expansion.”