The Mayor of London’s proposed Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) could see freight firms turn their backs on the capital rather than face the cost of upgrading to compliant Euro-6 vehicles within a two year deadline.

The warning comes from Pallet-Track member ELB Partners, which services central London.

Peter Eason, MD of the Wimbledon-based firm, also predicted a bottleneck of orders for Euro-6 vehicles as hauliers race to meet the April 2019 ULEZ deadline.

He predicted some firms would be forced into debt and others would have to raise their costs to fund the upgrade of their fleets.

Eason argues the deadline will put pressure on manufacturers to have thousands of Euro-6 compliant trucks ready by April 2019, if London’s logistics companies are to avoid the ULEZ £100 per day, per vehicle charge.

While Eason is supportive of measures to cut emissions in London he believes it is unfair to make freight firms among the first to comply with ULEZ, when black cabs will be exempt.

Peter Eason ELB

Peter Eason, MD, ELB Partners

He is also concerned at the demands on his firm to comply. “We are being asked to get rid of vehicles that are perfectly clean because they are regularly serviced and tested for emissions.

"We will have to sell these but moreover order now to get the right number of Euro-6 engines in time, otherwise there will be a major blockage in the system as everyone tries to get hold of new vehicles by April 2019.

“I will have to sell eight perfectly good vehicles and I have already put in an order for four new Euro-6 tractor units. The 12-tonne vehicles come in at around £60,000 each so many businesses like ours will have no choice other than pass on the additional costs to customers or build up a lot of unnecessary debt.

"Either way, it will mean the cost of business and goods will have to further increase.”

Pallet-Track network MD Nigel Parkes, said: “It can be argued that penalising a sector that regularly services its vehicles and indeed, have already high-quality clean engines, as no vehicles tend to be older than a few years old, is disproportionate.

“The ULEZ is a real concern for businesses operating in the capital as existing prices for goods will not be sustainable in the long-term. This is without the increasing volatility of fuel prices in what is already an extremely low-margin business,” he warned.

An interim T-Charge measure will be introduced this October by London's mayor Sadiq Khan.