London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s decision to launch the London Ultra Low Emission Zone on 8 April 2019, rather than 2020, is going to hit commercial vehicle operators hard, industry body the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) has warned.
Launching the initiative 17 months earlier than planned means fleets “will face a big financial challenge in trying to upgrade their vehicles ahead of schedule,” warned BVRLA chief executive Gerry Keaney.
“Many of these operators will be small and medium sized businesses that rely on buying secondhand vehicles from larger fleets and can’t afford to go and buy a whole new Euro VI fleet at short notice.” The BVRLA had asked Transport for London for special consideration to be given to smaller vehicle operators; this has not been forthcoming.
The BVRLA insists its position is not an anti-green stance. The organisation concedes that diesel vehicles are responsible for most of the roadside air quality issues faced by UK towns and cities, and in time, they need to be phased out.
“Diesel vehicles play an essential role in transporting goods and people around the country,” said Keaney, “but the emissions they produce on low-speed urban roads means they have no long-term future in our cities.”
However, the transition needs to be managed in a way without “crippling our economy pr punishing people for decisions they have already made.”
The trade body has also urged the government to ensure other cities across the UK, who may follow London’s lead in introducing clean air zones, to follow a national framework so standards, signage and enforcement is consistent.