Motorists could soon be banned from driving through the centre of the capital - and the Ultra Low Emissions Zone could spread further, potentially causing issues for millions
28 February 2014

London will take another step towards banning older diesel and petrol-powered private cars from the city centre when the proposed Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) is further discussed next week.

A second 'stakeholder' meeting is expected to reinforce a proposal to ban diesel cars that don’t meet EU6 emissions standards or petrols that don’t meet EU4 from the central Congestion Charge Zone.

"We announced last February the intention to introduce an Ultra Low Emissions Zone in 2020 for central London and we have been working towards that goal since," says TfL.

TfL stresses that no decision has been made about the rules governing the ULEZ and that four official proposals for its operation will be formulated, before a single theme goes to public consultation later this year.

However, Autocar understands that the ban on pre-EU6 diesels — cars registered before 2014, and pre-EU4 petrols, as well as any registered before 2005 — was put to an informal vote at the first stakeholder meet in November and won overwhelming support.

There are also fears that the ULEZ will be introduced in outer London beyond the North and South circular roads on the same boundary as the current truck/bus Low Emission Zone.

That would ensnare millions of motorists unable to comply with the EU6 and EU4 standards, rocketing up the cost of motoring for many ordinary Londoners.

Even if this doesn’t happen, the ramifications of the smaller anti-car zone will affect motorists across the capital and anyone owning a diesel registered before 2014 will be banned from the centre of London.

There are anomalies under the proposal, which will ban low-emitting small cars with EU5 diesels, where DPF particle filters are standard, but allow in large diesel-powered cars and SUVs, which may emit relatively high levels of pollutants.

Events like the annual London-Brighton run and the Regent’s Street Motor Show, based around classic and vintage cars that won’t meet the limits, will also have to be cancelled or moved elsewhere.

Although motorists groups are monitoring the introduction of pollution-related controls on drivers — such as the new 60mph motorway limit — it appears that the car-makers' trade group, the SMMT, is the only car industry voice represented at the ULEZ stakeholder meetings.

It is also known that diesel-powered trucks, buses, vans and taxis individually produce much larger volumes of pollutants than private cars.

TfL says that around 80 per cent of large particle (PM10) pollution in central London comes from road transport and half of that comes from ‘non-exhaust sources’, largely rubber and brake dust. 

Of the remaining accountable small share cars generate 17 per cent, taxis 34 per cent, vans 26 per cent and trucks 11 per cent and buses 8 per cent.

Ironically London already complies with EU PM10 particle targets, having hit lower levels in 2011. The other main pollutant is oxides of nitrogen, which can cause smog in certain weather conditions. Around 50 per cent of nitrogen oxides in central London are attributed to road transport, but TfL doesn’t break out figures for private cars.

More efficient engines and tougher technical standards over the past ten years have reduced the output of tailpipe emissions up to 10 times. However, green campaigners like Simon Birkett of Clean Air in London, one of the stakeholders shaping the ULEZ, doubts the benefit of more efficient diesels in real-world operation.

"EU diesel standards have not achieved anything for nitrogen dioxide because the test doesn’t reflect real world driving. My view is that we are with diesel where we were with smoking 30 years ago. Diesel is carcinogenic," Birkett told Autocar.

TfL has also been experimenting with road sweeping to clear tyre rubber, brake dust and building dust from construction sites, which contribute to the volume of tiny particles floating around in London’s air.

The Conservative mayor Boris Johnson, TfL and the Greater London Assembly are formulating the plan to combat low air quality.

Green campaigners claim that London has the highest levels of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) in Europe and that fines of up to £300m a year will be levied by the EU if London’s air quality doesn’t meet standards.

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Comments
26

28 February 2014
what they're basically doing is keeping poorer people off the roads of London and thus making it easier for the rich, that are able to buy newer cars, to travel. Having said that I'm all for fewer diesels but this method just affects the less well off

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

14 March 2014
Poor people who live in central London don't usually have cars. The Royal Mews has lots of cars (like a Phantom VI) that would be banned. What about the classics dealers?

RogerHudson

28 February 2014
..the first words in my head involve lots of *** so we'll go with 'rubbish'. Stakeholders - also known as pressure groups with biased agendas, expect them to be involved but in some cases hope their presence is not overly influential with regard to poorly informed others. As a proposal in this form it stands as a great way to force London workers/residents/visitors on to a shambolic public transport system. So what happens if this goes through and the tube strikes? Or the rail services are interrupted due to the inclement weather. The cost to business will be astronomic. From a personal perspective - this would mean I no longer transact any business in London. Travel is too long and expensive via any other means than car, and it would appear my 2013 car is not good enough for the individuals of questionable intent running the show in that city. I wouldn't mind so much if the data sets being used as justification were iron clad, but as the article points out there are some worrying and very relevant holes. I'm guessing that as this is at consultation stage it in all likelihood will be heavily amended as I cannot see a public consultation finding in its favour, even if the underlying core is for the right reason. The personal costs to average London voters is too great - I don't think Boris is willing to risk that number of votes!

28 February 2014
CornishGreg wrote:
..the first words in my head involve lots of *** so we'll go with 'rubbish'. Stakeholders - also known as pressure groups with biased agendas, expect them to be involved but in some cases hope their presence is not overly influential with regard to poorly informed others. As a proposal in this form it stands as a great way to force London workers/residents/visitors on to a shambolic public transport system. So what happens if this goes through and the tube strikes? Or the rail services are interrupted due to the inclement weather. The cost to business will be astronomic. From a personal perspective - this would mean I no longer transact any business in London. Travel is too long and expensive via any other means than car, and it would appear my 2013 car is not good enough for the individuals of questionable intent running the show in that city. I wouldn't mind so much if the data sets being used as justification were iron clad, but as the article points out there are some worrying and very relevant holes. I'm guessing that as this is at consultation stage it in all likelihood will be heavily amended as I cannot see a public consultation finding in its favour, even if the underlying core is for the right reason. The personal costs to average London voters is too great - I don't think Boris is willing to risk that number of votes!
This! I run a 2013 diesel with less than 100 g/km CO2 rating. It boggles the mind that this would be banned from London, where dirty and smelly taxis are allowed to run free, and yet an extremely powerful diesel Range Rover, for instance, could be allowed in. Is there somewhere that states that ALL 2014 cars are EU6-compliant? Because I'm 99.9% sure the engine in my car is no different to the engine in a 2014 model.


"Work hard and be nice to people"

28 February 2014
If the government hadn't made diesels cheaper to tax for over the last 10+ years this wouldn't be such a problem. Diesels are licensed to kill.

28 February 2014
And yet it won't fix the major problem, which is the taxis (generally EU3 compliant) and badly maintained buses, pumping out a load of crud

28 February 2014
Why try to accelerate what will happen naturally to the detriment of thousands of normal people . Sometimes I think we need to legislate against the legislaters . In time the (not so old) cars will be replaced with newer cars anyway . Buses are the big problem if you ask me and loony tree hugging policies . Bet the same folks will be reducing the size of our bins and frequency of our bin collections next . Idiots ! They've tried that around here already and surprise surprise fly tipping has escalated .

28 February 2014
They need to do something. London stinks, it's not as bad as new york but air quality is rank on a hot summers day. But I agree with Turismo you are peanlising all the people who changed to diesel as the car tax was more appealing. It would be better for phasing if it really goes ahead.

28 February 2014
I don't want to restart the diesel-vs-petrol debate, but its a crying shame that quirky legislation in the UK and Europe enables diesels to be seen as "clean" cars while they're in fact the direst contributors to air pollution in city centres. Fine on motorways but in city centres coughing all that CO2, soot and carcinogenic particles - seriously?

28 February 2014
If i just look for the positives in this, it is excellent to hear diesels are being recognised as the carcinogenic problem that they are. I am still not convinced about Euro 6 regulations. The cars may well pass the test when new, but will they still be clean enough at 100,000 miles? But to single out the private motorist when the issue is clearly related to public transport, vans, trucks etc to a much greater extent seems harsh and cruel. Furthermore many people have purchased a diesel to get around the congestion charge, only now to risk finding their car wont be allowed in at all. We need joined up thinking, and plenty of notice to incoming rules to give people time to adjust.

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