London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) has launched, with operators delivering into the capital questioning the mayor’s rationale in forcing them to invest tens of thousands of pounds to comply.

Covering the same area in central London as the Congestion Charge, the Euro-6 standard ULEZ has been introduced - today (8 April) almost a year and a half earlier than first planned. Those running non-compliant HGVs will be required to pay daily charges of £100.

Peter Eason, MD at London-based Pallet-Track member ELB Partners, said he’d just taken delivery of his final two Euro-6 trucks at a cost of £63,000 as a result of the ULEZ.

“London’s introduction of the ULEZ is 17 months ahead of its original planned time, which has had a major impact on businesses like ours, which depend upon easy access to the centre of the capital,” he said.

“This has placed a lot on unnecessary additional debt on many businesses.

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“I’ve offset the cost by selling all of my non-Euro-5 vehicles to other freight providers not currently affected by such zones, but their time will no doubt come,” Eason said.

Stephen Smith, director at Barking-based Boleyn Recovery & Fleet Services, said 25% of its fleet remained non-compliant due to the tight timescales imposed on the industry and the costs involved.

Smith said: “Boleyn, like most other operators, do understand the need for cleaner vehicles but the London mayor's belligerence and inability to gauge the negative impact of his timeline is irresponsible.

“Heavy recovery vehicles take 18 months to build and are in use for 10 to 15 years.

“The result is, the recovery industry business model simply cannot keep up with his short timeline he has introduced.

“The irony is that there will be less heavy recovery vehicles able to operate in London which will increase congestion and further reduce air quality.”

He added: “The mayor chose not to invest any money in retrofitting technology for HGVs. One has to question why he has allowed taxis, that cause considerable congestion, to continue to operate and excluded recovery operators who can alleviate congestion.”

Cost of compliance

R Jameson Events Transport in Marlow said it had spent hundreds of thousands of pounds to ensure it complies with the ULEZ. It added that it had been forced to retire serviceable vehicles.

Director Richard Jameson said he would struggle to pass on the costs. “I explain to my customers but there are people out there that will do it at a loss to get the work, which is a road to nowhere,” he said.

“It’s cost me a lot of money and I am hoping that the people that haven’t invested are forced not to compete; that’s my hope,” he added.

RHA chief executive Richard Burnett said: “The prospect of having to pay an extra £100 per day will mean financial ruin for many operators.

“Their only alternative will be to stop servicing the capital altogether.”

  • For more on the subject see our clean air zone and ULEZ page for the latest on the issue across the UK, brought to you in association with Ryder.

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