London LEZ: Be prepared for changes

On 26 October, emissions standards for the London LEZ will tighten. TfL hosted a session to educate operators on requirements and enforcement. Here’s what it said

If your vehicles frequently enter the London LEZ, chances are you already know about the upcoming changes.

It is important that you know how it will affect your business, as the consequences of non-compliance can be severe.

routeone has already reported on the London LEZ extension and explained that the physical boundary will not change, but the emission standards for heavy vehicles in the Greater London area will.

From 26 October, your coach or bus must meet Euro VI standards or else pay a daily charge.

For non-compliant coaches, that is £100 for vehicles that meet Euro IV or V, and £300 for vehicles that do not satisfy the minimum Euro IV requirement.

The new standard for heavy vehicles will be the same as that for the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), which will itself extend to the north and south circular roads from October 2021. However, no extra charge will be levied for moving between the two zones. The £300 charge for vehicles that do not satisfy the minimum Euro IV standard represents a £100 increase over the previous £200 daily charge.

Minibuses up to 5,000kg GVW are not affected by the LEZ changes, according to Transport for London (TfL). Euro III will still be the requirement. However, those vehicles will still need to satify Euro VI standards if entering the ULEZ, otherwise a daily charge will be levied.

Operators of minibuses up to 5,000kg GVW which do not meet existing ULEZ or LEZ standards will need to pay an LEZ daily charge and an additional ULEZ charge if entering central London.

Significant draws that are covered by the tougher emissions standards include Wembley Stadium, Heathrow Airport and the O2 Arena. Euro VI is not required for coaches and buses over 5,000kg GVW at the moment, but it will be after October 26.

If the charges are not paid a penalty of £1,000 will be issued. This can be reduced to £500 if settled within 14 days. Operators can sign up to TfL’s auto-pay scheme to avoid the risk of missing payments.

It will be a bitter pill to swallow for many. Some present at the information session noted that the demand for stricter emissions compliance is compounded by the troubles already being caused by the government regulations on PSVAR compliance.

London LEZ coaches
Grants of up to £15,000 will be made available later in the year for operators that scrap non-compliant coaches and buses in favour of Euro VI diesels

Scrappage scheme

But help is at hand for operators that frequently enter the LEZ and ULEZ.

This has come in the form of an announcement last week from London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who has extended the 2019 van scrappage scheme to include small business operators of heavy vehicles, including coaches and buses outside of the TfL network.

Grants of up to £15,000 will be made available later in the year for operators that scrap non-compliant coaches and buses in favour of Euro VI diesels. Currently, the scrappage scheme allows for new or used vehicles to replace older ones – Euro VI compliance is the only requirement. It will be offered per vehicle, up to a maximum of three vehicles. So far the scheme is only available to businesses with fewer than 50 employees.

One of the major discussions at TfL’s LEZ information session was the option for retrofitting. routeone contacted TfL directly to confirm whether funding would be made available to operators seeking retrofit solutions to upgrade to Euro VI emissions standards. It said it is not ruling out the possibility. Details have yet to be finalised, and announcements will continue in the coming months. This is likely to include more information about the implementation of zero emission zones across London as of 2025.

Retrofit solution

TfL encourages retrofitting as a solution to Euro VI compliance, and Eminox, Baumot and Proventia were present to offer guidance and information. Retrofits must be registered in order to avoid fines on TfL’s system. Operators should contact TfL with documented evidence that the equipment has been fitted.

Approved systems recognised by TfL cover the Volvo D9B Euro IV and V engines, Mercedes-Benz Tourismo MB OM457 Euro V engine, Scania DC09 Euro IV and V engines, DAF PR265 Euro IV and V and the Scania DC13 Euro IV and V engines. If there is demand for more retrofit solutions, operators are encouraged to approach suppliers and demonstrate that demand.

A national register of retrofits will be made later this year. A grace period will be considered on a case-by-case basis if proof is provided that equipment is on order and a fitting date is known. It will be no longer than three months and a ULEZ/LEZ payment will be required until any period of grace application is approved.