Clean Air Strategies for Van Fleets

Motor trade insurance, fleet insurance

As part of is clean air strategy, the Government plan to reduce pollution in cities by introducing five Clean Air Zones this year. Due to calls from some city councils, the Government announced in March that it would be postponing the introduction until January 2021 to allow businesses to focus on work and response efforts during the Covid-19 outbreak. This comes as a welcome respite to commercial fleets who are undergoing a challenging time.

With the postponement of the scheme, van fleets will have longer to accommodate to the new policy.

So, just what are Clean Air Zones (CAZ), how can they be implemented and what does this mean for your van fleet? We answer those questions here, while in part two, we will take a closer look at what fleets can do to make sure they are compliant, how to reduce van emissions and if there are any implications for your motor trade insurance or fleet insurance.

What are Clean Air Zones?

A Clean Air Zone is defined as an area in which a local authority has brought in measures to help improve air quality. This can include areas in which vehicles can be charged or fined for entering and is generally applicable to buses, taxis, LGVs and HGVs.

Clean Air Zones are being implemented in Birmingham, Derby, Southampton, Leeds, and Nottingham. London’s own scheme – the Ultra-Low Emission Zone, came into force in 2019 (currently paused due to covid-19).

The Government has also named 23 local authorities where it expects pollution levels to reach illegal levels by 2021. They must all carry out a feasibility study to determine whether a Clean Air Zone is required.

How Will It Affect My Business?

According to research conducted on behalf of Northgate Vehicle Hire, over a quarter of businesses which use vans are not aware of plans for Clean Air Zones, even those these could pose severe financial as well as operational challenges. Of those that were aware, more than half said they expect the move to affect their business.

Within Clean Air Zones, there will be two types: charging and non-charging. The non-charging CAZ will focus on improving air quality through retrofitting vehicles, traffic flow management or re-routing some traffic.

Within a charging zone, van drivers will be charged a fee to enter the area if their vehicle doesn’t meet the necessary environmental requirements, which will likely be based upon European emissions standards. These have been set to reduce the levels of harmful exhaust emissions, namely: nitrogen oxides (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO), hydrocarbons (HC) and particulate matter (PM).

As diesel and petrol engines both produce different types of emissions, different standards are applied. As of July 2019, the minimum emissions standards are Euro 4 for petrol vehicles and Euro 6 for diesels.

Buses, coaches, and HGVs that meet Euro 6 emissions standards, and cars, vans and taxis that meet Euro 6 (diesel) or Euro 4 (petrol) are exempt from any charges or restrictions. Ultra-low emission vehicles with a significant zero-emission are also exempt. To find out about your vehicle charges, you can go to:

https://www.gov.uk/check-clean-air-zone-charge and enter your registration number.

How Much Will the Charges Be?

This varies per city and not all fees have yet to be finalised. So far, both Leeds and Birmingham have government approved plans.

Leeds

This will cover most of the city centre and you can check on the city council’s website to find out if your vehicle meets the emission standards. There are plans to help taxi drivers switch to ultra-low emission vehicles and upgrade/retrofit grants for HGV or LPV operators.

•          No charge for private cars, vans, motorcycles, and mopeds

•          £12.50 for taxis (or £50 per week for Leeds-licenced vehicles)

•          £50 for buses, coaches, and HGVs

Birmingham

To be based on or inside the inner ring road and there will also be a range of exemptions for one or two years.

•          Motorcycles and mopeds are expected to be free

•          £8 for private cars and taxis

•          £50 for buses, coaches, and HGVs

Nottingham has subsequently cancelled its plans to introduce a CAZ by proving it can reduce air pollution through other measures to below the legal limit within two years. Southampton also introduced a CAZ on a non-charging basis in 2017.

See our next blog to find out how you can be CAZ compliant and also reduce emissions.

Other news

If you are the owner of a taxi fleet or are thinking of expanding your taxi business, getting the right level of cover for all your vehicles can be a challenge, particularly if you renew individual policies annually.

If you are thinking about setting up in the car valeting business, you could be investing in a lucrative new career, particularly if you have a passion for vehicles and great attention to detail.