Businesses are being urged to seek advice and support to ensure their vehicle are compliant with London’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone.
The call comes from the AA with just over a month to go until the ULEZ goes live, as the organisation warns that larger fleets, particularly with older vehicles, may have a big task ahead of them.
Initial forecasts predict that the costs levied on non-compliant firms, particularly small firms with five non-compliant lorries or vans could equate to more than 40% of annual turnover, according to the FTA.
Approximately eight out of 10 (80%) vans on the UK’s roads are thought to be non-ULEZ compliant but some financial incentives are already in place to help businesses to comply. Microbusinesses and charities, for example, can apply to the Mayor of London’s £48m scrappage fund for grants of £6,000 and £3,500 respectively, which can help to absorb some of the financial impact of scrapping older fleet vehicles and switching to cleaner models.
Stuart Thomas, director of fleet and SME services for the AA, said: “We want businesses to be ULEZ compliant, but we also want to make sure that they have the support they need to make this transition smoothly and effectively.
“However, more needs to be done. The scrappage fund is a good first step, but more action is needed to encourage fleets to make the switch from diesel – which remains the fuel of choice for most. Fleet managers need advice on the types of fuel out there, what would best suit their needs, and what infrastructure and services currently exist to help keep their ULEZ-compliant fleets moving.”
His comments build on BT Fleet Solutions’ 2018/19 Operational Fleet Report. Published in association with the AA, this surveyed more than 500 fleet managers on the latest clean air initiatives, including the London ULEZ. The research found that awareness of the rollout of low-emission zones is high but the understanding of how this would work in practice and the specific implications for their businesses is still missing.
And according to the research, although on average respondents said half of the vehicles in their fleet are currently compliant with the London ULEZ and 2020 clean air zones, a third of fleets don’t have a clean air zone strategy in place – of which, half said that lack of clarity and lack of information were among the reasons why they’ve not set out to make their fleet ‘2020-compliant’.
The research also found that some fleet managers felt that whilst it was commercially practical to operate less polluting vehicles within low emissions zones and operate non-compliant vehicles outside those zones, this was at odds with the overall goal of reducing harmful emissions. Moreover, this was not a choice open to all fleets. For example some businesses operate predominantly in cities/urban locations and so they cannot avoid operating most of their vehicles within low emissions zones; others operate vehicles which must be able to cover large areas and diverse locations as the need arises, thus reducing their control over where and when a given vehicle can be deployed.
Thomas added: “If you’re unsure about any aspect of the ULEZ, I encourage you to seek support. If you believe your business may be affected by the forthcoming changes, you can use Transport for London’s ULEZ vehicle checker for compliance clarification. The AA is also available to provide advice and support on transitioning to clean air zone driving.”