Fleets will be unfairly punished when central London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) comes into force on April 8th, 2019 – 17 months earlier than originally planned.

Most vehicles driving within the ULEZ area will be hit with a daily charge of £12.50 if they fail to satisfy Euro VI exhaust emission standards.

The charge – which comes in addition to the city’s Congestion Charge and the recently introduced T-Charge – will force many commercial vehicle operators to replace their vehicles much sooner than they had anticipated.

All trucks registered before 2014 will face heavy fines and the short notice means many companies will struggle to find the funds to introduce cleaner vehicles in time and will either have to absorb the daily charge or reduce their operations.

This April 2019 deadline – approved by London mayor Sadiq Khan following a consultation – has caused outrage amongst fleet organisations such as the British Vehicle Rental Leasing Association (BVRLA) and Road Haulage Association (RHA).

RHA chief executive Richard Burnett believes Mr Khan and Transport for London (TfL) have ignored his group’s advice, which suggested a staggered introduction.

“This flies in the face of common sense and our consultation response,” he commented.

“Since the early introduction of the ULEZ was first proposed, we have pushed hard for a phased approach that will improve air quality and maintain the economy of London.”

Mr Burnett added that more than half of Britain’s lorry fleet will not be Euro VI when the ULEZ is introduced and the new charge could cost many hauliers £100 a day, on top of any other charges they may already pay like the C-Charge.

BVRLA chief executive Gerry Keaney said that many commercial fleet operators now face a “big financial challenge” in trying to upgrade their vehicles ahead of schedule.

“Many of these operators will be small and medium sized businesses that rely on buying second-hand vehicles from larger fleets and can’t afford to go and buy a whole new Euro VI fleet at short notice,” he commented.

Ben Robb, brand manager at The Fuelcard People, adds: “Fleets were already being hit hard with the C-Charge and cost of operating in central London, and now they face yet another unavoidable fee.”

Photo: MarioGuti/iStock

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