LOW EMISSION ZONE

The enforced introduction of a so called 'Low Emission Zone' surrounding London, means that many poorer people were effectively forced off the road by criteria that was, in the eyes of many, unfair and unnecessary and which specifically targeted the poor. Did the sacrifice, that greatly inconvenienced those in the least position to make it, actually achieve anything? Or was it just an empty guesture ordered by those in charge at the expense of the less well off in society, effectively giving up the poor as the sacrificial lamb for the purpose of kowtowing to Europe, and bearing in mind it was implemented just before the 2012 olympic games, trying to look good to the rest of the world?


My personal situation and one of many instances - written prior to the inroduction of the LEZ.

Introduction

I have a Peugeot Expert, 1997. Not the smallest of vans, but not exactly large either. Fitted with a 1.9TD engine, it is no bigger in engine size than your average small van or diesel saloon car. As I largely work from home, I only use my vehicle for a small number of trips each week and, on average, do very minimal mileage.

My vehicle, has a good engine, is fairly clean, with no sign of rust, and would quite happily have lasted me for another few years or so, had it not been for the introduction of the LEZ. The introduction of the LEZ now means, that on top of all my other financial outgoings, I have to find a considerable sum of money to try and buy another vehicle, or simply come off the road. I have no choice in this matter, as I actually live inside the zone, and so, otherwise, just being here will cost me £100 a day. Smaller vans, which also have approximately the same size engine, are currently exempt along with comparably powered, and even larger, saloon cars and 4x4’s, etc.

Many people feel that therefore the current proposed introduction is, to put it politely, somewhat unfair, penalising people disproportionately and lumping particular responsibility on those that can least afford it. Conversion costs for such vehicles are significantly high, that’s even if you can get it done at all, and the few fitters that are dotted around are overwhelmed with enquiries and work in hand. On enquiring to see what the cost would actually be for my vehicle I was informed that, for the very bottom of the range system, it would be a minimum of £2050.00. This is probably three times what my vehicle is worth and obviously a very significant amount of money for many of us.

I may have to try and do without my vehicle, I may have to try and take out yet another loan to buy a newer one. I don’t know if I’ll be able to sell my existing vehicle, as the introduction of this policy will also considerably reduce its worth, and with a glut of vans unusable in this area, make that somewhat difficult. I’m not exactly sure what I will do yet. The vehicle will probably have to be scrapped. It’s just another worry brought upon myself and many others in a similar position by politicians, who earn considerable money, don’t live in the same world as us, and somehow always manage to let the people down and for many of us, no vehicle means an inability to do our jobs.

Not many disagree with the aims of cleaning up our society. Whether we are talking in terms of social pollution, in the form of crime, or environmental pollution, however, this particular move, coincidently introduced just prior to the London Olympics, is putting more than a fair share of the responsibility on the people who can least afford it. With introduction of the LEZ, TFL, using very questionable and dubious criteria, will be literally forcing poor people off the road and some out of work altogether!


The following letter was addressed to the Mayor, asking for a reconsideration
of the proposed introduction of the low emission zone as from Jan 2012.

Letter 01

08/09/11

Dear Mr Johnson,

I am writing to complain about the proposed introduction of the low emission zone as from January 2012. I would like to point out that this policy will make life very difficult for some of the poorest of people in our society. Such people are already struggling to make ends meet and often struggle to find the money to keep their vehicles on the road as it is. They do not earn much money and simply cannot afford significant outlay for more modern vehicles. They also cannot afford expensive conversion costs or additional daily charges, to say nothing of the rather extravagant proposed daily charge. For people that actually live inside the zone, the proposed introduction will be virtually forcing them to involuntarily scrap their vehicles. Such vehicles will also be worth no more than scrap in this area due to the LEZ introduction. For many this will mean that they will lose their ability to work and their livelihoods, unable to replace their vehicles, and unable to use them.

This being the case, I would like to suggest that it would be significantly fairer to the poor people in our society to let such vehicles diminish by natural wastage. This would therefore then not penalize anyone in any forced or unnatural way, and the way time flies, will not make a great deal of difference in the great scheme of things. After all, if people could afford to buy a more modern vehicle, they would. Everybody, I’m sure, would like to have a nice new vehicle if they could. Alas society, as we currently know it, doesn’t quite work like that and all too often it is the poor and already disadvantaged that are given less than adequate consideration by the powers-that-be, as is now the case with the introduction of the LEZ.

Alternatively, perhaps the Government would like to assist the poor in paying for their vehicles to be converted? Unlikely I suspect. However, a fair and sensible compromise would be to allow the LEZ to introduce itself through natural wastage, rather than forced redundancy, thereby, not unfairly penalizing anyone. On behalf of such already disadvantaged people we look forward to, and would like to see, a change of heart, or even some presence of heart, and a revision of this proposal in line with the above suggestion. Put simply, it would be nice if you would reconsider. Thank you.

Yours faithfully,
David J Tarrant

Copies sent to: The Mayor’s Office, LEZ PO Box 4784


A clueless reply from TfL on behalf of the Mayor, completely missing the point.

Letter 01 reply

27 September 2011

Dear Mr Tarrant,

RE: Low Emission Zone (LEZ)

Thank you for your letter dated 8 September, addressed to the Mayor, regarding the LEZ. Your letter has been passed to Transport for London (TfL) to respond on the Mayor's behalf.

I appreciate the time you have taken to bring your suggestions to the attention of the Mayor.

As you may know the aim of the LEZ is to improve air quality for those that live and work in London. Despite significant improvements in recent years, air quality remains concern with pollution affecting the quality of life of Londoners, especially those with respiratory and cardiovascular conditions, including asthma, heart and lung disease. We are currently breaching EU limit values for air quality and are at risk of receiving massive fines that could be as high as 300 million Euros. To reduce this risk, and to improve the long-term health of Londoners, the Mayor is introducing a package of measures to improve air quality in London, including support for electric vehicles, age-limits for taxis and Public Hire Vehicles and upgrading the bus fleet.

The LEZ is an important part of this package and that is why, from 3 January 2012, a Euro III for particulate matter standard will apply for larger vans, minibuses and specialist vehicles.

In addition, the emissions standards for vehicles already affected by the LEZ will be tightened. Lorries (over 3.51GVW), buses and coaches (over 5t with more than 8 passenger seats), and other specialist heavy vehicles will be required to meet a Euro IV standard for particulate matter to drive within the LEZ without charge.

To make it easier for operators, TfL is providing detailed advice on the available options, which include, fitting an approved filter, purchasing a newer vehicle or potentially renting a compliant vehicle.

The reductions in pollution that will be achieved by the new LEZ requirements are really significant: a Euro III rigid truck produces 5 times the particulate matter of an equivalent Euro IV vehicle and a 15 year old van produces 4 times the particulate matter pollution of a 9 year old (Euro III) van.

TfL and the Mayor are not in a position to offer grants to vehicle operators to fit abatement equipment or to purchase new or newer vehicles. There would be practical difficulties in targeting groups for assistance, given that so many operators driving within the LEZ would be based outside London and therefore outside of the jurisdiction of the Mayor and TfL. The Mayor therefore considers that the issue of grants or financial assistance would be better dealt with at central government level rather than regional level. The Mayor has lobbied Government extensively to provide support for operators affected by the changes to the LEZ in 2012: sadly without success thus far.

TfL is working closely with the abatement industry to ensure that there are solutions available for affected vehicles. We do not set guidelines as to how much suppliers can charge, as we aim to ensure that there are enough certified suppliers of abatement equipment to ensure competitive pricing.

TfL acknowledges that the LEZ could lead to increased costs for some operators however it is believed that any negative impact of the LEZ will be more than offset by the health and air quality benefits it will bring.

The new requirements of the LEZ may be difficult to meet, but most vehicles in London are already compliant with the standard.

Yours sincerely

Eva Rozmahelova
Correspondence Investigations Officer
Congestion Charging and Traffic Enforcement
Transport for London


A reply to the letter from TFL reitterating the point.

Letter 02

10/10/11

Re: Low Emission Zone

Dear Ms Rozmahelova,

Thank you for your reply, dated 27th September 2011. We do appreciate the points raised in your reply, however, I would also note that the real issue of the affordability of such a move, to the low paid in our society, has still not been addressed. I would also ask, when you talk about improving health, a goal that most are in favour of, is anyone considering the effects of financial stress on the hard up, or do they somehow not count? Obviously such a move puts significant additional strain on people who are often barely managing as it is. There are many individual self-employed people struggling in the current financial climate that will now have significant additional worry and financial burden on their plate for this Christmas as a result of LEZ introduction. I would also point out that the people behind this policy, whether in this country, or in Europe, are themselves on highly inflated salaries compared to many people. They do not live in the same world, have no clue as to what it is like, and no clue as to the effects of their actions. As it stands, it also appears that they do not care, as, on top of price rises in fuel and food, and the current recession, the LEZ is just another nail in the coffin of many poorer people in our society.

I would also add that in recent years, many traffic schemes implemented by local authorities have had a higher congestion factor, and therefore a higher pollution factor, than those they have replaced. Considerable sums of public money have been wasted on schemes that are very obviously retrogressive and green unfriendly, causing traffic to stop and start more often, and to sit around for longer. As well as being inefficient, this in itself considerably unnecessarily adds to pollution. Why not start putting some of that right, rather than penalizing the poor over a small percentage of older vehicles? This would make a significant improvement and would also please the public at the same time, rather than upsetting them.

I would also point out that it took the Government long enough to ban smoking in public places, whilst the rest of us had to carry on choking on the fumes. A very simple and healthy move, yet we were all expected to put up with that until it suited. And, as you say, most vehicles are already compliant, so why penalize the poorer people that can only afford an older vehicle? These vehicles still have to pass emissions’ tests for their MOT, so why not let things take their own course and die out naturally? Instead, get the Mayor to address and improve the efficiency of such traffic schemes and clean up the pollution in that area. I’m sure he would get everybody’s vote for that, because nobody likes sitting in traffic or having to stop and start unnecessarily. It is a waste of time, stressful, and generally unhealthy for everyone.

I would like to say also that when you are in a position of authority you have a duty to try and do the right thing by everybody, not just the well off. Our local authorities, TFL, the Government and the Mayor are all failing in this respect. I would also add, that as I am now putting these points to a representative of TFL and not the Mayor, the Mayor is not actually listening to, or learning from, the people he is supposed be serving, or getting the benefit of any of this understanding, which makes it all a bit farcical doesn’t it?

Yours faithfully,
David J Tarrant

No reply received


My personal situation and one of many instances - written after the inroduction of the LEZ.

Outcome

When the Low Emission Zone came in I was forced to scrap my Peugeot Expert 1.9TD, which was no different in engine size or pollution factor to any other average saloon car, people carrier, 4x4, or small van. I received £200 scrap value for it, although it it was actually valued at £200.50. - I didn't argue about the 50p. I was considerably lucky compared to some and managed, with the help of a sizeable loan from my parents, to buy another van. The new van (which wasn't actually new) cost me £7,200 plus £400 to fit a new clutch, which unfortunately went shortly after I'd acquired it. Again, luckily for me, and unlike many of those people targeted, I have been able to pay £125 a month for the new van, which I wouldn't have otherwise needed to buy, for a number of years to come until it's eventually paid off. However, that is still considerably cheaper than the absolutely ridiculous, no chance, £100 a day that TFL were going to charge me if I'd kept it.