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How London's Ultra-Low Emissions Zone will hit construction

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New rules to tackle air pollution come into force today, with lorries and trucks entering Central London forced to shell out £100 a day.  

Under the new Ultra-Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) rules, heavy-goods vehicles (HGVs) will be charged a £100 surcharge every day, with lighter vehicles such as cars and vans not up to emissions standards forced to pay £12.50.  

HGVs entering the capital are already subject to strict timing rules under the London Lorry Control Scheme. Many roads are classed as ‘restricted’ with specific council permission required for HGV use, while others are time restricted, from Monday to Friday, 9pm to 7am. 

Lorries, tippers, concrete mixers and removal lorries will have to pay the charge if they do not meet the Euro VI standards for emissions.  

Some construction vehicles are exempt however, including “non-road going vehicles which can drive on the highway (for example, excavators and other heavy plant) as well as certain types of mobile cranes”. Vehicles matching the exemption criteria do not need to register and are automatically exempt.  


Source: Transport for London & Google

The ULEZ (red) in the centre of the current Low-Emissions Zone (green).



Source: Transport for London & Google

The ULEZ covers the majority of central London and the City of London

The ULEZ rules also allow for some vehicles to be retrofitted with the government’s Clean Vehicle Retrofit Accreditation Scheme (CVRAS) to avoid the charge, however the technology is currently only approved for buses but TFL expects that “retrofit technologies will be developed for coaches and other specialist heavy vehicles where replacing the vehicle would be very expensive.”  

Mace’s director of responsible business Isabel McAllister said there could be an impact on SMEs. “Given the significant contribution made by construction to air pollution in London, we firmly support the introduction of the ULEZ,” she said. ”Due to the long lead in time, we’re not expecting the changes to have a huge direct impact on our projects or our supply chain – big subcontractors have had plenty of time to make the necessary adjustments to their logistics operations. Where we may see some issues are with SME suppliers further down the chain who haven’t had the capacity to prepare – and so we’re working closely with our supply chain to ensure that we can mitigate that risk.”

Jacobs director of growth for London and cities Kate Kenny added: “From both a technical and a policy/strategy development perspective, we’re supporting clients in London and other cities with air quality management and sustainable transport strategies to reduce congestion and create a cleaner environment.” 

“We helped Transport for London to examine the environmental, health, equality, economic and business effects of the proposed ULEZ, looking at a range of issues such as changes to air quality, people’s health and well-being, and impacts on London’s economy.”

Meanwhile Civic Engineers founding director Stephen O’Malley told New Civil Engineer that the benefits coming from reduced HGV traffic were obvious, and the cost of the ULEZ should be rolled into overall project costs. “We need to get better at putting costs and value on the right things, and air quality is an obvious benefit here, but the cost shouldnt just be born by the contractors, but project promoters as well.” 

From October 2020 the wider LEZ standards for buses, coaches, lorries and larger vehicles will be strengthened to match the ULEZ Euro VI standard. 

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