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Mixed reactions to London Mayor’s Ultra-Low Emission Zone plan

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The British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) has welcomed the Mayor of London’s plans for an Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in the capital.

BVRLA chief executive Gerry Keaney said: “London has to clean up its act, and the Mayor’s proposals for an Ultra-Low Emission Zone by 2020 will make a massive contribution.”

Under the current proposals, which are still subject to a full consultation, drivers of older diesel and petrol vehicles would be subject to a ULEZ charge on top of the congestion charge to travel in central London.

Petrol and diesel vehicles would need to meet the Euro 4 petrol or Euro 6 diesel standards respectively to be exempt from the proposed ULEZ charge.

Fleet News first revealed the Mayor's plans for an Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in April.

Keaney added: “Diesel vehicles are popular because they have provided millions of consumers and businesses with fuel-efficient motoring.

“Unfortunately, diesel particulate filters are not as effective in congested, slow-moving urban traffic, but the new Euro 6 diesel engine standard will address this issue.”

Diana Raine, European business manager at Hydrogen Energy Systems at Air Products, also welcomed the ULEZ plan.

She said: “This manifesto will be key in encouraging the use of cleaner, greener fuels to reduce air pollution and protect the nation’s health.

“Hydrogen-powered vehicles emit only water at the point of use, and the technology is proven and ready to be used now.

"It is not a fuel of the future, it is a fuel for today and, with the right support, it has the potential to de-carbonise the transport sector, with little sacrifice to transport performance.

“Forecasts by UK H2Mobility show that a mix of hydrogen production methods can deliver hydrogen to the driver at a cost competitive with diesel, yet with 60% lower CO2 emissions in 2020, 75% lower in 2030 and on a path to zero-carbon by 2050, making it the ideal replacement.

“We are already developing a network of SmartFuel hydrogen fuelling stations across the capital as we prepare for the arrival in the UK of commercially available hydrogen vehicles.

“In time, these stations will be connected to other clusters strategically deployed around the country, in order to provide national infrastructure coverage.

“However, for the transition from current transport technology to low-emission alternatives such as hydrogen fuel cell vehicles to become a reality, the Government must commit to further investment - not only for the vehicles themselves, but for the fuelling infrastructure that will support their rollout.”

However, the move has been criticized by FairFuel UK.

Campaigner Quentin Wilson said: "There's a new move to tax all diesel vehicles £10 to enter London, by Boris Johnson.

“This is totally unfair, already diesel is the most expensive fuel and UK is the only country in EU to price it higher than petrol. So diesel drivers and commercial hauliers are consequently already penalised with higher prices and duty taxation.

“The Government in 2001 praised diesel as the future fuel of choice, Ministers effectively pushed up diesel car sales with co2 related VED bands as incentives to change. So don't pick on the motorist, Mr Johnson. You can't now penalise drivers for trying to do the right thing."

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  • Buckets - 30/07/2014 12:33

    How does the most common form of traffic in London (cab and bus) comply to Euro6? If they are exempt from £10 charge there is no incentive to change the vehicles and cabbies will not want to refresh their fleets early. If hackney and bus licensing is on a "new vehicles/refreshed licenses" must be Euro6 compliant basis, then there might be a long term solution. What happens to redundant vehicles? Will they recover RV's? Will hydrogen/battery plug-in hybrids be able to offer the operating cycles demanded from them?

  • Noel Lock - 30/07/2014 14:04

    Back cabs have been converted to LPG and tested at Millbrook Proving Ground demonstrating dramatic reductions in toxic emissions. Way forward? It is the policy of so many cities around the world with 25 million LPG and CNG vehicles now on the road. Using fuels that are so clean-burning that millions of Britons cook with them using an open flame in their kitchens demonstrates their credentials. We cured the London smog problem with clean burning gas rather than coal and we can cure the urban pollution problem with the same policy. The USA (not a big fan of diesel!) has managed to reduce its carbon emissions and cut energy prices with fracking.

    • Steve Hansen - 31/07/2014 17:28

      @Noel Lock - Noel, I have no arguments about your support for natural gas to fuel power generation. But here's some food for thought regarding your support for LPG & CNG for transportation: 1) CNG vehicles and the environment: I recommend the stories in the NY Times ("Study Finds Methane Leaks Negate Benefits of Natural Gas as a Fuel for Vehicles" 2/13/14) and USA Today ("Natural gas vehicles worse for climate than diesel ones?" 2/14/14) to see how natural gas is a very questionable replacement for clean diesel. 2) Problems with natural gas vehicles:I suggest the recent story from the Houston Chronicle ("Economics of natural gas don’t always add up for fleets" 6/12/14). As one fleet manager stated about their experience with natural gas: "We’re not saving any money. I’m glad to hear we’re not the only one struggling with fuel mileage.” 3) Comparing CNG buses with new clean diesels: I recommend the analysis from the Clean Air Task that compared new CNG buses with new clean diesel buses. The analysis, entitled “Clean Diesel versus CNG Buses: Cost, Air Quality, & Climate Impacts” (2012) found: “Both new diesel and new CNG buses have significantly lower emissions of NOx, PM, and HC than the older diesel buses that they replace. According to EPA’s MOVES emissions model a 2012 model year diesel bus emits 94% less NOx per mile, 98% less PM, and 89% less HC than a model year 2000 (12-year old) diesel bus. A model year 2012 CNG bus emits 80% less NOx, 99% less PM, and 100% less HC than a model year 2000 diesel bus." My posts are not to suggest that new clean diesel is perfect. But in the U.S. it is a tremendous environmental success story with 98 percent reductions in PM emissions and 99 percent in NOx emissions compared to 1988 trucks and buses. In addition, the sulfur content has been reduced by 97 percent in the now mandatory ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel. I also am concerned that the UK media seems to make no distinction between problems with the Euro 5 and older diesel vehicles and the vast improvements in the Euro 6 vehicles.

  • Steve Hansen - 30/07/2014 16:36

    The new clean diesel technology has dramatically reduced NOx, PM and sulfur emissions. Two papers by credible sources were released in Europe in May that state that diesel is not the primary cause of NOx and PM pollution in Europe. According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe paper entitled "Diesel Engine Exhausts: Myths and Realities": "From the data and facts mentioned above, we conclude with a high degree of reliability that it is misleading to claim that people's exposure to diesel engines of road motor vehicles is the cause of increased risk of lung cancer. "Eighty three percent of particulate matters emissions in European Union countries (EEA, 2012a) and 97 percent in the United States of America (EPA 2013) and Canada is generated by other economic sectors, mainly the commercial, institutional and household sector. "Therefore, the claim that emissions from diesel engine exhausts from road transport are the main cause of lung cancer in humans needs to be seriously challenged. It does not mean however, that measures to improve the environmental performance of the transport sector can stop. On the contrary, they must continue and in an aggressively well targeted way." The 2nd paper supported by the several agencies including the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), the Federal Roads Office (FEDRO), the Swiss National Science Foundation, the EU commission, the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the French Environment and Energy Management Agency.concludes: "Cars and trucks, particularly diesel vehicles, are thought to be the main vehicular pollution sources. This needs re-thinking, as we show that elevated particulate matter levels can be a consequence of 'asymmetric pollution' from two-stroke scooters, vehicles that constitute a small fraction of the fleet, but can dominate urban vehicular pollution through organic aerosol and aromatic emission factors up to thousands of times higher than from other vehicle classes." In addition, in its 2014 "State of the Air" report for the U.S., the American Lung Association cited the new clean diesel fleet as being one of the two primary reasons for improved air quality in the U.S.

    • Noel Lock - 31/07/2014 11:32

      @Steve Hansen - dieselforum.org Dr Benjamin Barratt, emissions researcher at King’s College London, has stated, “It is a quirk of modern diesels that they produce more NO2 than in the past. This is because they have been designed to use NO2 to burn off particulates but, in stop-start conditions found in congested streets, the systems are inefficient and produce far too much NO2. United Nations Economic Commission for Europe paper entitled "Diesel Engine Exhausts: Myths and Realities": concluding statement (paragraph143) “At the same time, it is a serious concern that particulate matters emitted in diesel engine exhaust are carcinogenic to humans.” Readers may wish to cast an eye on below (admittedly from Wikipedia). 3-Nitrobenzanthrone (3-nitro-7H-benz[de]anthracen-7-one) is a chemical compound emitted in diesel exhaust; it is a potent carcinogen.[2] It produced the highest score ever reported in the Ames test, a standard measure of the cancer-causing potential of toxic chemicals, far greater than the previous known strongest (1,8-dinitropyrene, which is also found in diesel exhaust).[3] You cite the 2014 "State of the Air" report for the U.S., the American Lung Association and its demand for cleaner diesel. It should be noted that the grade of diesel used in the USA is already higher than that in Britain and it is doubtful whether our Russian suppliers could match this quality. But the organization also states: "Cutting air pollution through the Clean Air Act will prevent at least 230,000 deaths and save $2 trillion annually by 2020." See extract from Clean Air Act to explain the dramatic increase in LPG vehicles in the USA. Part C - Clean Fuel Vehicles Trucks and automobiles play a large role in deleterious air quality. Harmful chemicals such as nitrogen oxide, hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide are released from motor vehicles. Some of these also react with sunlight to produce photochemicals.[10] These harmful substances change the climate, alter ocean pH and include toxins that may cause cancer, birth defects or respiratory illness. Motor vehicles increased in the 1990s since approximately 58 percent of households owned two or more vehicles.[10] The Clean Fuel Vehicle programs focused on alternative fuel use and petroleum fuels that met low emission vehicle (LEV) levels. Compressed natural gas, ethanol,[11] methanol,[12] liquefied petroleum gas and electricity are examples of cleaner alternative fuel. Programs such as the California Clean Fuels Program and pilot program are increasing demand that for new fuels to be developed to reduce harmful emissions The RAC, in its submission to the Environmental Audit Committee concludes, “So what is the main culprit? In short diesel engines.” Paragraph 6. Other contributors to the same committee include the following: i) City of London Corporation regarding ‘discourage the uptake of diesel vehicles in urban area’, submission para 7, ‘it is widely accepted that Euro Standards for NOx, produced by diesel vehicles have not worked’ and ‘encourage alternative fuels’, both para 12. ii) Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland (EWNI) regarding ‘DfT must also address the diesel issue, removing unhelpful incentives’, para Summary/Recommendations b. iii) COMEAP regarding ‘that the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has evaluated both diesel-engine exhaust to humans (Group 1). These evaluations have confirmed that the substantial evidence linking air pollution to lung cancer is likely to reflect a casual relationship.’ Para 5. iv) Campaign for Air Pollution Public Inquiry regarding ‘Research into the application of Euro standards has highlighted that the higher standards do not deliver the expected improvements in emissions of NOx, especially for diesel cars and LGVs.’ Para 3.6.15 v) Dr Stanislow Prokop regarding his neuropharmacological evidence linking diesel pollution to brain damage in children. vi) Calor Gas Ltd regarding their claim of a ‘Policy Shift Against a Greener Transport Fuel’ vii) Prof. Alastair Lewis and Prof Mathew Evans on behalf of the National Centre for Atmospheric Science regarding ‘the underperformance in real-world conditions of later EURO diesel engine emissions controls.’ Para 5 and their five subsequent referrals to diesel. viii) The Chartered Institute of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) regarding ‘Some measures to tackle climate change have exacerbated air pollution, such as the use of biomass boilers in urban areas and the widespread switch to diesel fuel by the vehicle fleet.’ Para 6 & 27. ix) Public Health England (PHE) regarding ‘evaluations by the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of both diesel-engine exhaust and ambient air pollution as being carcinogenic to humans (Group 1). IARC’s evaluations have confirmed that ambient air pollution is associated with increased mortality from lung cancer.’ Para 6. x) Institute of Environmental Services regarding ‘With respect to compliance with air quality standards, air quality management in the UK is currently in a position where much is dependent on the new Euro standards for diesel engines delivering real reductions in NOx emissions, in contrast to their immediate predecessors.’ Para 2.6 and their other comments on the policies of the DfT. xi) Written evidence by London Councils regarding ‘Tackling dieselisation of the car fleet by amending tax incentives, including vehicle excise duty (VED) and capital allowances;’ para 22. xii) Putney Society regarding ‘urgent need to promote shift away from diesel’ para 14b.iii and six other mentions of diesel. xiii) Environmental Research Group (ERG), King’s College, London regarding ‘A shift away from diesel’ para 2.2 and their 16 other negative references to diesel. xiv) London Borough of Hounslow regarding ‘It was only air quality monitoring that illustrated the levelling off of improvement in nitrogen dioxide concentration, thus demonstrating the effect of increased use of diesel engine vehicles.’ Para 2.1 xv) Environmental Protection UK regarding ‘At present, insufficient action is being taken at by the UK government to improve air quality. This is a public health scandal.’ Para 6 and ‘introduction of fiscal incentives for diesel cars which has had a catastrophic impact of local air pollution, with an almost negligible benefit on CO2.’ Para 11 and subsequent references to diesel. xvi) Cllr Jack Scott, Cabinet Member of Environment, Recycling and Streetscene, Sheffield City Council regarding ‘we need a shift away from diesel fuel (declared a Class 1 Carcinogen by WHO, 2012) to alternative low emission fuels (electric, gas/biogas, hybrid, hydrogen) Para 1.5 xvii) Clean Air in London regarding ‘Unlike scores of cities across Europe, the Mayor has done nothing specific to restrict diesel cars and perversely gave some of them a 100% discount from the congestion charge. The LAEI 2010 shows diesel cars being by far the largest source of NO2 exhaust fumes from road transport in London with a sharply increasing trend during his time in office and hope for reductions from 2015 based on projected reductions for Euro 6 vehicles.’ Para 26 and quoting Carslaw ‘We found that in diesel cars and light goods vehicles emissions of nitrogen dioxide have not decreased for the past 15-20 years.’ Para 52 xviii) Anaerobic Digestion & Biogas Association regarding ‘Trial data has made clear the significant air quality benefits that are realised from moving from diesel to gas or biomethane. For example, Coca-Cola’s trial of an HGV fuelled by biomethane from landfill gas saw a reduction of NOx emissions by 85.6% and PM emissions by 97.1% compared to an equivalent diesel vehicle. Leeds City Council also recently trialled two biomethane powered refuse collection vehicles, achieving a 49% saving in well-to-wheel GHG emissions during the trial compared to an equivalent diesel vehicle.’ Para 6. xix) Freight Transport Association regarding ‘Using alternatives to diesel such as natural gas (either as compressed natural gas or liquefied natural gas) and ultimately biomethane allows for substantially reduced emissions.’ Para 36 xx) Iarla Kilbane-Dawe, PhD regarding ‘The USA, with its tighter regulations of cars and goods vehicles and tighter air pollution standards, has demonstrated that it is possible for modern economies to grow while reducing air pollution to levels half those of Europe. In fact many of the low cost solutions that the US has used would serve UK cities well. Specifically: Use petrol (and also liquefied petroleum gas and compressed natural gas) as the primary fuel in cities, and very little diesel.’ 2nd Para. For devotees of pure electric I offer two observations: Firstly, if range anxiety were the only problem why is mains gas so dominant in the home heating market? Secondly, if pure EV market penetration were ever to achieve more than a tiny fraction of trivial we would need to rewire the UK as nine high capacity chargers can blow a sub-station. Clean-burning gaseous fuels have to be part of the mix, as indeed they already are across the world. A good place to start would be our taxi fleet as we export more LPG than would be require to fuel all of them. If death and taxes are the only two certainties in life, readers of Fleet News may wish to consider who are most at risk from road based pollution? Probably, the people who spend most time on our roads.

  • collin - 04/08/2014 07:03

    this is your problem I saw first hand old diesel taxis all over london emitting lots of exhaust out the tail pipe. So pretty much all the older diesel vehicles without newer reduced emissions equipment is the source of your air quality issues in london. The newer low emissions diesels are not the problem. So unless you retrofit all those old diesel vehicles to lower emissions then you have to test those old diesel vehicles. Most of the heavy polluters are the old diesel vehicles that are commercial or city owned vehicles. Taxis, buses, etc...

  • GABRIEL LEVICKY - 15/05/2016 19:16

    So PC has won its battle - now we shall wait and see where it will go. I feel sorry for England...

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