Give firms a year to prepare for ULEZ – industry boss


The ULEZ expansion should be delayed by a year to allow firms time to prepare for the change, a leading trade body has said. 

Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ)
Map credit: TfL. Logo credit: BMF.

The Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) CEO, John Newcomb, urged London mayor Sadiq Khan to push back his Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) expansion by 12 months – and called for a “targeted” commercial vehicle scrappage scheme to support tradespeople. 

The ULEZ is set to expand across all London boroughs from 29 August, to improve London’s air quality and people’s health.   

The ULEZ currently spans the area between the North and South Circular roads, once implemented it will cover an area three-times that size. 

A £12.50 daily fee will be charged for non-compliant vehicles, and those that fail to pay the charge could face a fine of up to £160.  

This extends to diesel vans registered before September 2016 and petrol vans registered before January 2006. 

Champion Building Services director, Daniel Campion, baulked at the mounting costs tradespeople face working in central London, potentially exacerbated when the ULEZ expansion takes effect.    

The family-run construction business owner in Chiswick said firms already face a more than £1,500 a month cost to do business in the city before they even pick up their tools – costs that inevitably get transferred on to clients, leading to escalating prices.   

The Labour mayor of London faced opposition to his ULEZ proposal in the High Court this week, following a legal challenge launched in February by Conservative councils in Bexley, Bromley, Harrow, Hillingdon and Surrey. 

Following pushback from SMEs and London households, Mr Khan recently announced his scrappage scheme, an up to £3,000 package aimed at low-income Londoners to scrap their old polluting vehicles ahead of the expansion.   

Newcomb is now pushing for a “targeted commercial vehicle scrappage scheme”, in addition to the 12-month delay to the ULEZ expansion. 

He added SMEs may have to choose between paying daily charges to work in the expanded zone or replacing their non-compliant transport while the supply for second-hand vehicles is weak.  

The BMF claimed more than half of vans in outer London “did not meet ULEZ criteria at the end of last year”. 

“The BMF is calling for a targeted commercial vehicle scrappage scheme and is supporting calls for a 12-month delay to the ULEZ expansion, scheduled for August,” said Newcomb. 

“BMF members recognise the importance of air quality and as responsible employers our members take a number of steps to ensure fuel efficiency and the health and wellbeing of staff. 

“However, we firmly believe that a 12-month delay to the start of the ULEZ expansion will allow businesses and individuals to prepare – especially in relation to the availability of compliant vehicles.” 

Newcomb added: “SMEs may have to choose between paying daily charges to work in the expanded zone or replacing their vehicles while the market for second-hand commercial vehicles is not sufficiently mature to supply the number or type required. 

“TfL’s suggested options for ‘last mile’ deliveries – such as e-cargo bikes – may be ideal for some industries, but by the very nature of our trade, we have no choice but to use HGVs, trucks and vans to deliver our products, which is why we have long favoured a targeted scrappage scheme for commercial vehicles.” 

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