London low emission zone

London low emission zone

Infobox electronic payment | | name= Low emission zone | location= Greater London | launched= 2008 | sales_location_1= Online | sales_location_2= Telephone
sales_location_3= Post
currency= GBP
technology_1= Fixed and mobile CCTV | technology_2= Number plate recognition
operator= IBM (from 2009) | manager= Transport for London | homepage=

The London Low Emission Zone (LEZ) is a charging scheme with the stated aim of reducing the pollution emissions of diesel-powered commercial vehicles in London, England. Vehicles are defined by their emissions and those that exceed pre-determined levels are charged to enter Greater London. The low emission zone started operating on 4 February 2008. There is a planned phased introduction of an increasingly stricter regime up to 2012, when it will be fully operational. The scheme is administered by the Transport for London executive agency within the Greater London Authority.


Airborne pollution in London is the worst in the United Kingdom, and amongst the worst in Europe, and roadside pollution has been rising for two years.cite news |url= |title=Spy camera identifies polluting drivers |first=Graham |last=Tibbetts |work=The Daily Telegraph |publisher=Telegraph News and Media |date=2008-02-02 |accessdate=2007-11-25] cite news |url= |title=The lighter route to cleaner air |first=Sean |last=Dodson |work=The Guardian |publisher=Guardian News and Media |date=2006-07-20 |accessdate=2008-02-02] A Green Party report stated that in 2007, nine sites in London exceed the EU limits for air pollution, in 2000 it was only one.cite news |url= |date=2007-09-25 |title=City roads breach pollution limit |work=BBC News |publisher=British Broadcasting Corporation |accessdate=2007-11-25] Since 1993 the London Air Quality Network of King's College London has co-ordinated the monitoring of air pollution across 30 London boroughs and Heathrow, and has noted that in 2005-6 almost all road and kerbside monitoring sites across greater London exceeded the annual average limits for nitrogen dioxide of 40 μgm-3 (21 ppb), with eleven sites exceeding the hourly limits of 200 μgm-3 (105 ppb) on at least 18 occasions each. (The A23 at Brixton suffered the most consistently high levels for more than two-fifths of the period.) This compares to 2002 when only one site exceeded these limits. They also note that carbon monoxide levels reduced rapidly during the late 1990s and have been relatively stable since 2002. [cite web |format=PDF |url= |title=Air Quality In London 2005 and mid 2006 – Briefing |last=Fuller & Green |date=2006-07-28 |publisher=London Air Quality Network |accessed=2008-01-08]

72% of the population is concerned about air quality. Transport for London (TfL) have stated that there are an estimated 1,000 premature deaths and a further 1,000 hospital admissions annually, due to poor air quality from all causes.cite news |url= |title=School minibuses to be hit by pollution charge |first=David |last=Millward |work=The Daily Telegraph |publisher=Telegraph News and Media |date=2007-11-05 |accessdate=2007-11-25]

Towards the end of 2006, the Mayor of London proposed changing the congestion charge fee, from being a flat rate for all qualifying vehicles, to being based on Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) bands. [cite news |url=,,2-2453251,00.html |title=Gas-guzzlers face £25 congestion charge |first=Elsa |last=McLaren |coauthors=Agencies |work=Times Online |publisher=News Corporation Ltd |date=2006-11-14 |accessdate=2008-01-20] VED bands for new vehicles are based on the results of a laboratory test, designed to calculate the theoretical potential emissions of the vehicle in grammes of CO2 per kilometre travelled, under ideal conditions. The resulting figures, described as "deeply flawed" by the editor-in-chief of What Car? magazine, are then used to define the band in which a particular vehicle falls. The lowest band, "Band A", is for vehicles with a calculated CO2 value of up to 100 g/km, the highest band, "Band G", is for vehicles with a CO2 value of greater than 225 g/km. [cite news |title=Fuel's gold - the cost of carbon emissions |first=Andrew |last=English
date=2007-10-06 |publisher=Telegraph News and Media Ltd |work=The Daily Telegraph |url= |accessdate=2008-01-20
] Under the proposed modifications to the scheme, vehicles falling into "Band A" would have a reduced, or even zero charge, whilst those in "Band G" would be charged at £25 per day. Certain categories of vehicle, including electric vehicles, are already exempt from the charge.cite web |url=,,519534,00.html |title=Q&A: The congestion charge |coauthors=Simon Jeffery and Sarah Phillips |work=The Guardian |publisher=Guardian News and Media |date=2006-08-07 |accessdate=2007-05-26] [cite news |url= |date=2006-07-13 |title=Congestion charge will rise to £25 for 'Chelsea tractors' |first=Ben |last=Webster |work=The Times |publisher=News Corporation Ltd |accessdate=2007-05-26] These proposals were put out to public consultation in August 2007.cite news |work=BBC News |publisher=British Broadcasting Corporation |title=Polluting cars C-charge discussed |url= |date=2007-08-10 |accessdate=2007-11-25]

In early 2006, consultations began on another charging scheme for motor vehicles entering London. Under this new scheme, a daily charge would be applied to the vehicles responsible for most of London's road traffic emissions, commercial vehicles – such as lorries, buses and coaches, with diesel engines. Cars were explicitly excluded. The stated objective of the new scheme is to help London meet its European Union (EU) air pollution obligations - specifically the [ EU Air Quality Framework Directive] - as part of the Mayor's programme to make London the greenest city in the world. Despite some opposition, on May 9 2007 the Mayor confirmed that he would proceed with a London Low Emission Zone, focused entirely on vehicle emissions, that plans to reduce emissions overall by 16% by 2012.cite news|url= |title=£200 pollution charge for lorries |work=BBC News |publisher=British Broadcasting Corporation |date=2007-05-09 |accessdate=2007-11-22]

TfL, who are responsible for introducing the scheme under direction from the Mayor of London, have operated a public information campaign both in the media and at poster sites as well as road shows at service stations, transport cafes, markets and ports.cite news |url= |title=Firms 'unaware' of emission zone |date=2008-01-04 |accessdate=2008-01-04 |work=BBC News |publisher=British Broadcasting Corporation] London currently has levels of air pollution among the worst in Europe and road transport related emissions account for around half of total emissions of PM10 and NOx in the capital. The Low Emission Zone targets the worst emitters of these pollutants, older diesel-engined lorries, buses, coaches, vans, minibuses and other heavy vehicles that are derived from lorries and vans such as motor caravans and motorised horse boxescite web |url= |title=Vehicles Affected |publisher=Transport for London |accessdate=2007-11-25]


The LEZ initially came into effect on 4 February 2008 covering most of Greater London, though in some places the zone deviates to allow diversionary routes and facilities to turn around without entering the zone. The M25 motorway is not included in the scheme where it enters Greater London for short stretches in the west, north and east. [cite news |url= |title='Fumes zone' consultation begins |work=BBC News |publisher=British Broadcasting Corporation |date=2006-01-31 |accessdate=2007-11-25] Signage indicates the boundaries of the zone which operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. [cite web |url= |format=PDF |title=The Low Emission Zone. Cleaner air for Greater London. |pages=Pages 10 - 12 |publisher=Transport for London |accessdate=2007-11-25] - the largest such zone in the world. There will be a phased introduction of further provisions through to January 2012. Different vehicles will be affected over time and increasingly tougher emissions standards will apply.cite web |url= |title=Emissions standards |publisher=Transport for London |accessdate=2007-11-21]

The scheme applies to diesel engine vehicles over 1.205 tonnes which must be registered with TfL. The scheme does not affect cars or motorcycles. [cite web |title= Which vehicles will be affected? |url= |publisher=Transport for London |accessdate=2007-11-25] Vehicles that do not meet these requirements will have to pay a fee of £200 with failure to pay resulting in a fine of up to £1,500.cite web |url= |title=Penalty Charges |publisher=Transport for London |accessdate=2007-11-25] A limited range of vehicles are exempted or able to obtain a discount from the charge.cite web |url= |title=Discounts and exemptions |publisher=Transport for London |accessdate=2007-11-25] Payment of the LEZ charge is in addition to any congestion charge required. [cite web |url= |title=Area of operation |publisher=Transport for London |accessdate=2007-11-25] TfL have stated that for the first 28 days of the scheme non compliant vehicles entering the zone will result in the owners getting a warning as opposed to the fine. Some vehicles will not have been adjusted to reduce their emissions due to high demand for the equipment required. [cite news |url= |publisher=Reed Business Information Limited |work=Contract Journal |first=Colin |last=Sowman |title=Transport for London announces LEZ 28 day grace for older trucks |date=2008-01-17 |accessdate=2008-01-19] [cite press release |url= |title=FSB welcomes TfLs stance on Low Emission Zone |publisher=Federation of Small Business |date=2007-01-17 |accessdate=2008-01-19]

Vehicles registered after October 2001 will generally be compliant with the first stages of the zone as from this date Euro 3 engine compliance was a mandatory requirement. Specific engines registered before October 2001 may also be compliant. Vehicles not specifically listed can be registered with TfL subject to obtaining a Low Emission Certificate (LEC) from the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) subject to passing a supplementary smoke test (around 4,000 certificates issued as of 6 December 2007),Fact|date=January 2008 or for non UK vehicles a specified operator certificate.cite web |url= |title=Engine certification |publisher=Transport for London |accessdate=2007-11-25] Most vehicles do not need to be registered as TfL have compiled a list of compliant vehicles from information held by Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), VOSA and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. [cite web |url= |format=PDF |title=The Low Emission Zone. Cleaner air for Greater London. |pages=Pages 6 - 7 |publisher=Transport for London |accessdate=2007-11-25]

Like the congestion charge, the zone is monitored using Automatic Number Plate Reading Cameras (ANPR) to record number plates.cite web |url= |title=Enforcement |publisher=Transport for London |accessdate=2007-11-21] Vehicles entering or moving around the zone are checked against the records of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) to enable TfL to pursue vehicles that have not paid. For vehicles registered outside of Great Britain, an international debt recovery agency will be used to obtain unpaid charges and fines. The scheme will be operated on a day-to-day basis by IBM from November 2009. [cite news |url= |title=Capita to lose congestion charge |date=2007-10-25 |accessdate=2007-11-21 |work=BBC News |publisher=British Broadcasting Corporation]


The scheme was opposed during the consultation phase by a range of stake holders. The Freight Transport Association proposed an alternative scheme, reliant on a replacement cycle of vehicles, with lorries over 8 years old being liable, with higher years for other vehicles. They also stated that the standards were different than the forthcoming Euro 5 requirements as well suggesting the scheme did not do anything to help reduce CO2 emissions. [cite web |url= |title=LEZ consultation |publisher=Freight Transport Association] The Road Haulage Association opposed the scheme, stating the costs to hauliers and benefits to the environment did not justify its introduction.

Schools and St. John Ambulance have expressed concern about the additional costs that the scheme will bring them, particularly in light of the restricted budgets they operate in.

The proposals were welcomed by the British Lung Foundation and the British Heart Foundation. London First, a business organisation, criticised aspects of the scheme with relation to the categorisation of vehicles, but supported the principle.

ee also

*London congestion charge
*Motoring taxation in the United Kingdom


External links

* [ TfL - Low Emission Zone website]
* [ TfL - Online compliance checker]
* [ TfL - List of compliant vehicles]
* [ Freight Transport Association - Low Emission Zone pages]
* [ London Air Quality Network]

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