SOE professional sectors react to emission targets
1st Feb 2017
Government plans to introduce measures to limit diesel emissions in London have been met with scepticism amongst operators in the capital.
Late last year London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, confirmed his intention to bring forward the launch of an Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) from 2020 to 2019, causing alarm amongst many businesses operating in London.
Theresa May announced a twelve-point plan in January aimed at boosting British industry, with one of the key aims being to ‘deliver affordable energy and clean growth,’ putting further pressure on big cities to reduce pollution.
Air quality in London has improved in recent years, experts say, but the pollutant, nitrogen dioxide (NOx), still remains above legal limits.
Failing to meet ULEZ standards would mean a £100 per day charge if you drive a HGV, bus or coach, which could force operators with older fleets to upgrade to less polluting Euro 6 vehicles.
Although most operators understand the need to reduce London emissions, many feel small businesses could be forced out of the market if they are not given the necessary financial support from government to comply, warn industry experts.
John Eastman, Chair of IRTE Professional Sector Council, believes the only way to enforce such measures and keep businesses operating profitably, would be for the government to ease the financial burden of converting to lower emission vehicles.
“We are uneasy with the impression that freight is solely to blame for high level of emissions in London and other big cities. Freight has been making great strides in recent years limiting emissions in line with regulations and will continue to do so, within a time-frame which will keep businesses competitive,” said Mr Eastman.
“It seems to be acting in response to other major cities in proposing a reduction in emissions, without considering the implications. We would like Sadiq Khan to propose measures following a period of consultation and review, and by giving operators an input.”
“If the congestion zones are bringing in more money, surely the operators should be offset their losses with these funds,” said Mr Eastman.
Howard Seymour, SOE president elect and Fellow of the Institution of Plant Engineers, echoes those sentiments.
“The cost of purchasing new vehicles is high, and some operators simply may not be in a position to afford to replace entire fleets in the two years before these rules are introduced,” said Mr Seymour.
“The proposals are stringent and will potentially have a large impact on fleet operators, unless some support is provided, perhaps in the form of grants.”
Mr Seymour said he is interested in whether companies in the plant operations sector would be next to face further legislation curbing emissions. He said: “We are keeping a watching brief and we will be following the evolving situation very closely.”