Enforcement of new stricter rules for freight vehicles in London, which were due to come into force from October 2020, under the Low Emission Zone (LEZ) and Direct Vision Standard (DVS), have been postponed until February 2021.
Disrupted supply chains during the coronavirus pandemic have made it more difficult for the new standards to be met on time, said Transport for London (TfL).
As such, mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has asked TfL to delay enforcement of the new rules for at least four months to give the industry and fleet operators more time to adopt compliant vehicles.
Although the new rules under both schemes will still legally come into force on 26 October, no charges will be payable or enforced for non-compliant vehicles under those new standards until the end of February 2021.
The new date for the start of enforcement will be kept under review.
The announcement follows the suspension the current Low Emission Zone, Congestion Charge and Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) until further notice to help critical workers get to work and for essential deliveries to take place.
Christina Calderato, TfL’s head of transport strategy and planning, said: “The tighter standards for the Low Emission Zone and Direct Vision Standard are both absolutely vital to our plans to make London a cleaner, greener and safer place to live.
“We’re committed to bringing these changes in as soon as practically possible while supporting the freight industry and recognising that the coronavirus pandemic has placed intense new demands on people and organisations across the capital.
“We’ll continue to work closely with the freight industry and propose to begin enforcement of the new rules four months later than planned, at the end of February 2021.”
The LEZ, which covers most of Greater London, sets minimum emissions standards for heavy diesel vehicles. These standards will be tightened for buses, coaches and lorries in line with requirements in place for the central London ULEZ.
The DVS is designed to reduce danger to road users by introducing a permit system for HGVs, assigning vehicles a star rating based on how much the driver can see directly through their cab window.
From 26 October 2020, heavier vehicles not meeting the new stricter emissions standards would have had to pay a daily charge to drive within the LEZ.
From the same date, anyone driving an HGV within Greater London without a valid HGV safety permit could have received a penalty charge notice of up to £550 per day.
The Fright Transport Association (FTA) welcomed the decision to postpone the schemes.
Natalie Chapman, head of urban policy at FTA, said: “Logistics operators are already facing significant disruption to their operations as members of their workforce fall ill and/or enter into self-isolation.
“Achieving compliance with DVS will require many goods vehicles over 12 tonnes to have additional cameras, sensors and alarms fitted. However, supplies of technology, equipment and trucks are already being disrupted and more effects are expected.
“Delaying enforcement will allow businesses to focus their efforts on ensuring the population of London continue to receive the food, hygiene products and other basic items required to see them through this pandemic.”
Chapman added that whilst the announced delay will give welcome relief to logistics operators, a longer period is likely to be needed for businesses to adjust and FTA will continue to work collaboratively with TfL on the details and the timetable.
“Many operators had already started replacing vehicles and fitting additional safety equipment in preparation for the original October deadline, so in many cases compliance with these schemes will be realised even sooner than the original October deadline,” said Chapman.
Freight operators can continue to apply for an HGV Safety Permit on the TfL website at tfl.gov.uk/modes/driving/dvs-safety-permit-application/.
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