Boleyn Recovery

Retrofit equipment will be available for hauliers ahead of the start of London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) next April, according to TfL.

From 8 April 2019 HGVs entering central London will need to comply with Euro-6 engine emission regulations or face a daily fine of £100.

TfL was responding to a request for an exemption for recovery operators from Barking, Essex-based Boleyn Recovery and Fleet Services.

In a letter seen by MT, Jeffrey Johns, compliance manager at the business, called on TfL to introduce an exemption for recovery operators to offset the rushed introduction of the ULEZ.

“We have a mixed fleet of vehicles with the majority being slidebed recovery trucks and three heavy recovery vehicles. These vehicles are specialist vehicles that, although starting from a normal HGV chassis, have been completely rebuilt to incorporate all the recovery attachments such as cranes and underlifts. This puts the prices for such vehicles anywhere between £120,000 and £250,000 and, with the small profit margin available in the recovery industry, this limits the amount of money available for fleet replacement,” said Johns.

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“A regular haulage operator will usually use their vehicles for between eight to 16 hours a day depending on how many drivers they have on shifts, and their vehicle costs less than a large recovery truck. Whereas a heavy recovery truck, due to the nature of recovery, may only attend a couple of breakdowns during the day and so have a low utilisation. This means that recovery operators have to pay more for their trucks and have a limited amount of utilisation.

“With the introduction of the new ULEZ and Direct Vision Standard, I feel we are being unfairly pressured to invest in new trucks by TfL when others are exempt. We have contacted all the major suppliers of aftermarket exhaust filter kits and none of them have a completed design for upgrading ‘normal’ HGVs.”

He added that retrofit firms have been concentrating their efforts on London's bus fleet, with coaches their next priority. "They therefore have no set date (or indeed price) for the completition of any design for HGVs and so the only option it to look at replacing vehicles in order to meet the Euro-6 requirement," said Johns.

However, D Milton, contract and operations manager at TfL, ruled out an exemption for recovery vehicles in his response.

“We recognise that the national Clean Vehicle Retrofit Accreditation System only has emissions reduction systems certified for buses. We are working with the Energy Saving Trust and retrofit technology suppliers to encourage the development of systems for the broadest possible range of specialist vehicles where replacing the vehicle would be very expensive.

“We remain confident that emissions reduction systems will be available to fit before the introduction of ULEZ, although they may not be available for every vehicle application,” he said.