Logistics UK has reiterated its appeal for mitigations to be made to the upcoming London Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) expansion for the benefit of operators.

The logistics industry body said this was based on new data from Auto Trader showing van operators would struggle to buy suitable compliant vehicles in time for the expanded zone’s introduction on 29 August.

The expanded zone will operate across all London boroughs up to the existing Low Emission Zone boundary.

The scheme charges £12.50 per day for diesel vans which do not comply with the Euro 6 emissions standard, and petrol vans which do not comply with the Euro 4 emissions standard, to enter, with charges also applied to cars along the same lines.

The expansion of the zone was confirmed in November last year, along with a new, £110 million scrappage scheme aimed at charities, small businesses, and sole traders among others, which would pay grants for non-compliant vans to be scrapped or, for the first time, retrofitted.

Logistics UK senior policy manager Denise Beedell said: “Recent challenges such as the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine have impacted the automotive supply chain, including the supply of semi-conductors which are vital components in all vehicles. 

“As a result, new van registrations in 2022 were at their lowest level since 2013 and, as more clean air zones have been introduced around the country, the demand for Euro 6 vehicles has only intensified.  

“Businesses that rely on second hand vehicles, such as SMEs, have only limited options for purchasing a Euro-6 vehicle, and delays on the delivery of electric vehicles are also preventing operators from switching their fleets at this point. 

“As a result, in July 2022 Logistics UK called on TfL to introduce mitigations to allow those who can demonstrate that they have ordered – or plan to order – a new or replacement compliant vehicle, to remain exempt from additional charges should they not receive their vehicle delivery in time for the proposed ULEZ expansion start date. 

“Logistics UK is today reiterating these calls to ensure operators are not disproportionately impacted by vehicle production delays once the expansion is in place.”

Beedell argued that van operators were at the heart of London’s economy, but said they had been impacted by significant rises to inflation and other operating costs.

She continued: “Logistics UK members are fully committed to supporting the Mayor of London’s aims to improve air quality in the capital with operators of goods vehicles over 3.5 tonnes meeting tougher emissions standards since the London-wide Low Emission Zone requirements were tightened in March 2021. 

“However, with a lack of readily available alternatives, further daily charges will divert funds that could otherwise be invested in reducing emissions and decarbonising operations.”