The Mayor of London could immediately improve the city’s air quality by offering incentives such as discounted congestion charging to the cleanest freight operators, says the Freight Transport Association.
Boris Johnson’s office this week launched its ultra-low emission vehicle delivery plan which sets a direction for London to support the expected increase in the number of ultra-low emission vehicles over the next 10 years.
The launch was followed by the announcement that London Fire Brigade has agreed a £600,000 plan to replace 57 of the its fleet vehicles with range extender and hybrid electric cars by 2016.
Rachael Dillon, FTA’s climate change policy manager, said the right incentives were needed to get the freight industry on board as the plan had huge cost implications for the sector.
She said: “Low emission vehicles can offer fantastic benefits to helping the freight sector play its role in reducing pollutants and carbon, but high vehicle costs, concerns over reliability and lack of public refuelling infrastructure means that uptake remains relatively small.
“FTA sees the announcement as a key opportunity for both Transport for London and the Government to provide further incentives to enable fleet operators to make a business case for these alternative fuels and technologies. Why wait? This could be done straight away to improve air quality.”
Within TfL's 15-point action plan to deliver ULEVs, it aims to increase the uptake in freight and fleet operations.
This will include a new low emission commercial vehicle programme commencing this summer in which FTA is participating.
The programme is intended to accelerate the development and supply and widen the uptake of low-emission commercial vehicles and refuelling infrastructure.
The alternative fuel discount, a previous incentive, was launched in 2010 and since then the only discounts available on the congestion charge are for cleaner cars.
There are no incentives to encourage investment in cleaner commercial vehicles.
Dillon said: “Many fleets are already operating Euro 6 HGVs ahead of the introduction of the ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) from 2020.
"The right incentives could mean that fleets move their newest and cleanest vehicles to the capital, giving those living and working in central London some of the benefits of ULEZ straight away.”
Following the announcement that London Fire Brigade is adopting 57 range extender and hybrid electric cars by 2016, London’s fire commissioner Ron Dobson revealed the Brigade’s ambition to eventually use low emission fire engines in the capital, calling on industry to bring forward new technologies to meet the unique demands of operational emergency vehicles.
London’s deputy mayor for transport Isabel Dedring said: “London has real potential to become the ultra-low emission vehicle capital of Europe.
“There is a great opportunity for the capital’s fleet of commercial and private vehicles to step forward and help to deliver our ambition for London to be a world leader in green vehicle technology.
“It will help us meet London’s air quality challenge and provide economic benefits right across the UK – as shown by the mayor’s commitment to zero emission taxis which led to a £300 million investment, creating 2,000 jobs and two factories in Coventry.”
The new ULEV delivery plan sets out a range of actions to support the uptake of electric and ultra-low emission vehicles. It includes:
- A commitment to the ultra-low emission discount for the congestion charge and to improving it as emission standards improve, so only the cleanest vehicles are incentivised.
- Exploring preferential access for ULEV vehicles when new infrastructure is opened.
- Working with boroughs to develop preferential access, parking or charging in new area-based schemes, including through the £2m low emission neighbourhood programme to be funded by the Mayor’s Air Quality Fund
- A £65m programme of zero emission capable London taxi top-up grants, as well as decommissioning grants for taxis older than 10 years to encourage an accelerated take up of zero emission capable taxis.
- Launching a new low emission commercial vehicle (LECV) programme by the end of the year to accelerate the development, supply and widen uptake of low emission commercial vehicles and refuelling infrastructure.
- A trial of inductive wireless charging in the bus fleet by 2016.
- Undertaking trials of ‘geofencing’ to harness new technologies and target the potential air quality benefits. A trial will launch on bus route 159 next year and TfL will also explore trials with taxi manufacturers.
- Working with the car club industry to identify and put in place infrastructure to support the industry’s ambitions for at least 50% of their fleets to be ULEV by 2025.
- Developing a new infrastructure procurement framework for charge points that provides best value for procurers in the GLA Group.