Transport for London (TfL) has come under fire for axing its Van Scrappage Scheme, leaving operators with no support for complying with the expanded Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ).
The scrappage scheme launched in February 2019, offering qualifying fleets up to £6k towards the cost of switching to more eco-friendly vehicles.
However, TfL has said it’s now having to stop the scheme due to unprecedented demand and limited funds. Applications that were submitted prior to 5pm on 28 August will be processed as normal, but applications after this date will not be accepted.
The announcement comes just months after TfL announced it was reinstating road user charges and increasing the Congestion Charge; part of a number of conditions to secure a £1.6bn package to protect services.
It also comes ahead of the ULEZ extension to the North and South Circulars in October 2021; work is already underway on the expanded zone.
The cancellation of the scheme means that van operators will either need to shoulder the full costs of vehicle replacements for the expanded ULEZ or accept the daily charges.
Slamming the move, Cllr Alexander Ehmann from Richmond Council said: “This is very disappointing and short-sighted.
“We need to encourage as many local people and businesses as possible to switch to less polluting forms of transport. But for many – the switch is a financial challenge.
“We know the enormous financial pressures that are facing TfL, but to give people a handful of days before pulling the scheme is simply not good enough.”
Natalie Chapman, Logistics’ UK’s head of urban policy, also commented: “Logistics UK welcomed the introduction of the Van Scrappage Scheme, and although the scope for funding was narrow, it helped a number of smaller businesses prepare for the ULEZ; we hope that Government will support TfL to reinstate the scheme if necessary. In the meantime, we look forward to the launch of a scheme to help HGV operators prepare for the tightening of the London-wide Low Emission Zone next year.”
TfL said the scheme was being axed to enable fund sto be focused on a new scheme targeted at heavy vehicles, ahead of the introduction of the tightening of the standards for the London-wide Low Emission Zone next year.
Alex Williams, TfL’s director of city planning, added: “The current scrappage scheme will still be available for charity minibuses, continuing to provide assistance for those who are at the heart of London’s recovery from the pandemic. If additional funding is secured, we will look at if it is possible to reopen the scrappage scheme for vans.”
He also said the van scrappage scheme has been hugely successful in helping micro and small businesses ditch older, more polluting vehicles for cleaner alternatives. To date, payments to scrap 1,800 vans and minibuses have been issued and with the money committed this could rise to around 5,000.
“We have now committed more than £30m to support van owners in playing their part in cleaning up London’s toxic air and the result of this is a significant increase in the proportion of cleaner vans in the capital,” Williams continued.