Fleet News

Local councils ‘fail’ to embrace LEV policies

Fewer than one in three councils (29%) employ policies to support the procurement of low emission vehicles (LEVs), with only 12% making a similar provision for buses and coaches.   

The findings, from the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP), are published in a new guide for local authorities aimed at helping drive the uptake of LEVs and ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs).

It says that sustainable procurement strategies are particularly important, along with broader low emission strategies.

In 2012, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) issued guidance on “official Government buying standards” for vehicles. It said the fleet average for new cars should not exceed 130g/km, new vans should not exceed 175g/km and that cars and vans should comply with a minimum of Euro 5 standards.

The guide, Local Measures to Encourage the Uptake of Low Emission Vehicles, says: “It is a central Government requirement, but local authorities and other agencies are encouraged to use these standards as well.”

A key recommendation in the guide is that policy measures implemented at the local level should be consistent with each other, and that common definitions and vocabulary for low emission vehicles should be established.

The LowCVP guide, released to coincide with its annual conference, has identified five ‘P’s – levers that local authorities can most effectively use to influence low emission vehicle uptake at the local level.

They are:

  • Parking: discounts for LEVs or dedicated bays.
  • Permits: discounts for LEVs to operate in low emission zones and for residents, and preferential permits for LEV taxis.
  • Planning: embedding consideration for LEV fuelling infrastructure into local development.
  • Procurement: local authorities specifying LEVs for their own fleets and setting leading standards for their service providers.
  • Promotion: of the benefits to business and via educational activity within the local community.

The guide is published to a timescale intended to benefit the bidders for the £35 million available from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles’ (OLEV) Go Ultra Low City scheme.

Gloria Esposito, head of projects at the LowCVP, said: “The guide can help local authorities to offer consistent benefits to individuals and companies that will give LEV drivers the peace of mind and confidence they need to make the switch.” 

The LowCVP guide comes in the wake of a warning against ‘demonising diesel’ in policy changes from pricing experts Glass’s. It suggests that knee-jerk reactions to studies showing the negative impact of diesel emissions on urban air quality could be counterproductive as well as affect sales and use of diesel cars and commercial vehicles.

Rupert Pontin, head of valuations, points out that while some older diesel vehicles undoubtedly pump out too much nitrogen oxide and other potentially harmful substances, those that meet the latest emissions standards are virtually as clean as petrol.

He said: “The latest diesel emissions standards are very stringent and newer vehicles are unlikely to have the same kind of impact on the air that we breathe.”

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