London’s ULEZ will damage small businesses, logistics body claims

London’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) will cause damage to small businesses while delivering relatively low improvements to air quality, the leading logistics body has claimed.

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) said that London mayor Sadiq Khan’s plans to charge drivers of high-emissions vehicles from 8 April this year will not be as transformative to the city’s air quality as the mayor claims.

Instead, the body said that the boost in air quality will come at a disproportionate cost to London’s many small businesses.

Natalie Chapman, Head of Urban Policy at FTA said: ‘FTA recognises and supports the legal obligation to improve air quality and supports the principle of a low emission zone, but we question the effectiveness of the scheme in improving air quality as it is not a new standard.

‘Instead, it is just bringing forward the fleet replacement cycle at a huge cost to many small businesses and operators of specialist vehicles.’

The FTA claimed that many operators and vehicle manufacturers have already invested in cleaner technologies in their engines, helping to reduce levels of key pollutants hugely in recent years.

The body said that the introduction of ULEZ will particularly hit businesses who purchased Euro 5 vehicles – which adhere to standards that came into force in 2009 – as they believed they would have more time to run the vehicles before eventually selling them on.

‘The ULEZ means that for many businesses, the timeframe in which they had planned to sweat their assets has reduced and the residual values of Euro 5 vehicles have plummeted, Chapman added.  

‘So not only have they got to stump up for new vehicles sooner than they had planned, they have the double whammy that they have also lost out financially on the vehicles they are replacing.’

Last December Khan proposed a van scrappage scheme to help micro-businesses in London acquire Euro 6-compliant vans and prepare for the ULEZ.

The FTA praised the mayor for taking steps to protect businesses but is continuing to argue for sunset clauses for operators that will be based inside the ULEZ to make sure they have enough time to meet the necessary requirements.

With three months until the ULEZ is enforced, the body is also recommending that vehicle operators unsure whether their vehicles will be compliant make use of TfL’s new online compliance checker.