WHAT IS THE BAN PLAN? – Jon Averns is the public protection director of the City of London Corporation (CLC) who last month called upon mayor Sadiq Khan to stop issuing licences to diesel private hire vehicles and to ban all diesel minicabs across the whole of London by 2020.
Mr Averns, responding to the mayor’s New Proposals To Improve Air Quality consultation, said:
New (minicab) licences should not be given to the most polluting private hire vehicles immediately, while current cars should be phased out over the next three years.
Diesel PHVs travel huge distances in Central London and cleaner alternatives to diesel are readily available. They are releasing pollutants including nitrogen dioxides and particulate matter which can cause asthma, heart disease and cancer.
Businesses and residents want to see effective action and it is important that action is taken at the earliest opportunity to protect the health of Londoners.
The City of London Corporation has already banned the purchase of new diesel vehicles for the local authority’s 300 vehicle fleet and has cut a deal with Addison Lee, in which the company has agreed to switch its hybrid vehicles to electric mode while in the Square Mile’s financial district.
WHAT ARE THE ‘NEW PROPOSALS’ IN KHAN’S ‘AIR QUALITY’ CONSULTATION? – The consultation: “Invites Londoners to share their experiences and ideas about improving air quality and puts forward the mayor’s current thinking on the future of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ).” Proposals include:
- Bringing forward the introduction of the ULEZ to 2019 instead of 2020
- Extending the ULEZ from Central London up to the North and South Circular roads for all vehicles as early as 2019.
- Depending on the feedback from this consultation and continuing feasibility work, the mayor will decide which options should be pursued. The public and stakeholders will therefore have a full opportunity to be consulted on any detailed proposals put forward in 2017.
KHAN’S CONSULTATION DOES NOT MENTION A BAN ON DIESEL PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLES, SURELY THE TRADE HAS NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT? – You might like to think so, but the London minicab trade has not done well in recent consultations.
Both the Private Hire Regulations Review in June 2016 and Khan’s Taxi & PHV Action Plan in October 2016 contained measures put forward by third parties which have already or will in the future, harm the competitiveness of the capital’s minicab trade.
And just because a PHV diesel ban has not been listed as a firm consultation proposal, does not mean that it will not appear at some point in the future.
The Air Quality consultation is now at Stage 3 and according to a spokesman for the mayor of London: “A more detailed statutory consultation on proposed alterations to the ULEZ will be developed from taking into consideration the feedback received during the Stage 2 consultation.
“The mayor will then make a decision on whether or not to confirm the alteration to the ULEZ, with or without modifications.”
But, there is a danger that the phrase “With or without modifications” could unfortunately become code for all sorts of stuff, including a PHV diesel ban put forward by Mr Averns and the City of London Corporation.
IS GREEN GOOD? Absolutely, but the London private hire fleet is already one of the greenest in the capital, when compared to taxis and buses, and will be one of the cleanest anywhere in the world once the new ULEZ rules (see below) come into force.
The danger is that Khan and TfL have got so used to hitting the capital’s minicab fleet where it hurts the most during the last 12 months that one more draconian rule is neither here nor there.
Don’t forget that the City of London Corporation is already bringing in a total ban on vehicles using the Bank Junction in April (except buses and bicycles) and the resulting chaos in the medieval side streets around the junction will most likely push the pollution levels through the roof.
So, from the Corporation’s point of view, it makes total sense to ban any vehicles it can, so that the results of the 18 month trial show a drop in pollution levels and therefore an excuse to make the junction ban permanent.
PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLES AND ULTRA LOW EMISSION ZONE – In September 2020 (possibly 2019) the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) will launch in Central London. All cars, motorcycles, vans, minibuses, coaches and HGVs will need to meet exhaust emission standards (ULEZ standards) or pay an additional daily charge when travelling within Central London.
The area covered by the ULEZ is the same as the current Congestion Charge Zone and will operate 24 hours a day, every day of the year, including weekends and holidays.
PHV licensing requirement phases – The licensing requirements will be introduced in phases and will ensure that by 1 January 2023, all vehicles granted a PHV licence for the first time will be zero emission capable, regardless of age.
- 1 Jan 2018 – 31 Dec 2019 – In advance of the zero emission requirements from 2020, all PHVs licensed for the first time must have a Euro 6 petrol or a Euro 4 petrol-hybrid engine
- 1 Jan 2020 – 31 Dec 2022 – All new (less than 18 months old) PHVs licensed for the first time will have to be ZEC. PHVs over 18 months old will need to have a Euro 6 engine when licensed for the first time
- 1 January 2023 – All PHVs (regardless of age) will need to be ZEC when licensed for the first time
Where can I find out more about the ULEZ and about the options to meet the ULEZ standards?
- Visit: www.tfl.gov.uk/ultra-low-emission-zone
- Call: 0845 697 0009
- Email: ULEZenquiries@tfl.gov.uk