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Clean Air Zones Encourage Cleaner Vehicles

5 May, 2017

Julie Larkman

At midday today, the Government published the Clean Air Zone Framework for England. We will summarise it shortly, but thought it may be a good idea to detail the "Encouraging Cleaner Vehicles" section in full:

Encouraging cleaner vehicles

Clean Air Zones encourage the cleanest vehicles to operate within the zone, changing the overall fleet mix to be less polluting with knock on benefits outside the zone.

Improving existing vehicles

As well as encouraging uptake of new cleaner vehicles, local authorities can also consider incentives to support improvements in existing vehicles. This can particularly be targeted towards those vehicles that it might otherwise be costly to upgrade such as specialist vehicles. Examples include:

  • the retrofit of additional emissions abatement equipment to existing vehicles
  • encouraging the upgrade of refrigeration units on cold chain vehicles to the least polluting options

Access restrictions

As part of the introduction of a zone local authorities should consider using existing powers to raise the standard of buses, taxis and private hire vehicles within their area. In particular, they, together with relevant transport and licensing authorities, should consider:

  • introducing emission requirements for taxis and private hire vehicles using existing licensing powers. These requirements should be in line with the relevant vehicle standards set out at section 3.4 and detailed in Annex A. Local licensing authorities may also wish to consider further requirements, including setting age limits for taxis and PHVs, and encouraging the use of alternative fuels such as LPG
  • working with bus operators and developing quality partnership schemes to support cleaner vehicles by introducing emissions standards in line with those set out in this framework. The Bus Services Act 2017 provides for Enhanced Partnership and Advanced Quality partnerships with bus operators, to provide further options for local authorities to seek improvements.

This approach has already been used, for example, in cities such as Oxford ,Norwich and Brighton who have introduced the equivalent of a non-charging zone for buses. Several licensing authorities have set emissions limits for taxis and private hire vehicles.

Operating a Clean Air Zone in this way would provide a route for local authorities to deliver benefits by supporting behaviour change without imposing direct financial burdens. As such it could also be linked to a range of actions, such as those set out in section 2, and encourage individuals and businesses across all vehicle types to think about the modes of transport they use and what type of vehicles they purchase.

Clean Air Zones

There will be in effect two options for councils in operating Clean Air Zones. The framework does not necessarily state that councils have to implement a charging clean air zone, but we are guessing that most of them will. We do not think that this will necessarily be driven by fine revenues for the councils, but rather that if you did not operate a charging clean air zone, then non-compliant vehicles will not be able to enter them at all!

What doesn't the Framework say?

Well, it does not show what the proposed levels of charging will be (That would be the blank Appendix 2 then). It also does not say which councils explicitly will be implementing (or are thinking about implementing) a clean air zone.

HOWEVER, there is a supplementary paper that was published alongside the Framework document and paragraph 37 reads: "We will go through the Parliamentary process to introduce the legislation to mandate Clean Air Zones in Birmingham, Derby, Leeds, Nottingham and Southampton as soon as possible." This is in Line with the stated ambition of five cities having clean air zones by 2020 in the draft framework. So, to recap:

  • Birmingham - Clean Air Zone
  • Derby - Clean Air Zone
  • Leeds - Clean Air Zone
  • Nottingham - Clean Air Zone
  • Southampton - Clean Air Zone

What vehicles can access a clean air zone? Well, at CarLease247, we are not that interested in heavies, buses and that sort of thing, so let's look at cars and vans:

  • If you drive a ULEV all is good. A ULEV is a "ultra-low emitting vehicle" and basically emits up to 75 grams per kilometre.
  • If you drive a car, it'll need to be a Euro 6 diesel or a Euro 4 petrol
  • If you are a van driver, you will need to be driving a Euro 6 diesel or a Euro 4 petrol

Now, of the c9000 cars that are currently available new in the UK, only a couple of dozen would not meet the standards above. The same goes for the c3000 new vans out there. So here is the thing, it is only going to affect older vehicles. Given that the Euro 6 standard came along in 2014, you can see from the graph below that the majority of vehicles on the UK roads (cars and vans) would not meet the standards:

In fact, around 75% of the cars and vans on the UK roads would not meet the standards - that is a lot. We will have to wait and see what the charging structures look like, but this is certainly signalling the end of the diesel.

If you would like to see the document in full, you can read it here.

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Posted on 5th May 2017 at 2:05 PM

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