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Saturday, September 23, 2023

Guide To How New LEZ Regulations Affect Haulage Companies


As we become increasingly aware of our impact on the planet, more and more initiatives are being introduced to try and reverse the damage and preserve the environment. 

One such initiative is Low Emission Zones (LEZ) which have been introduced in countries all around the world, starting in Sweden back in the 1990s. 

In the UK, many major cities like London, Birmingham, Brighton, Manchester and more have got these schemes in place in an effort to reduce air pollution. However, they are not stopping there.

As of 2023, Ultra Low Emission Zones (ULEZ) are being introduced, particularly in the capital, in a bid to improve air quality and the overall health of people and the planet. 

While this might be good news for the future, large vehicles, especially HGVs are going to see a big knock-on effect as a result of these new zones. This will impact a lot of businesses that supply or rely on haulage and how they transport their goods. 

Below, we’re going to dive a little deeper into exactly how these new LEZ regulations will affect haulage over the next few years. 

What is a Low Emissions Zone (LEZ)?

For those who may not be familiar with the term, a Low Emission Zone (LEZ) is a defined area where high-polluting vehicles may have restricted entry or be made to pay an extra fee for using the roads. These are most commonly found in busy city centres and were first introduced in the UK in London back in 2008. 

Since then, these zones have become more popular, sweeping across the nation (and the world), and the aim is to target older vehicles that cause more pollution. There is even a new ULEZ initiative being implemented which is far stricter than current rules, though this is currently only operating in parts of London. 

How does a vehicle comply with LEZ standards?

In order to be exempt from additional charges, large commercial vehicles operating in these areas must meet Euro 6 standards or equivalent. 

The Euro 6 emission standard means that the vehicle must average CO2 emissions below 98g/km, with the aim being to restrict diesel NOx emissions. 

How will this affect businesses and haulage companies? 

As these Low Emission Zones are designed to target larger, older vehicles that cause more pollution, lorries and other HGVs are in the firing line. And as these areas continue to expand around the UK, lots of businesses may have to make some big changes to how they make or receive deliveries.

For those who run haulage companies, some serious consideration must be given as to how these new initiatives will impact them in the future. There are some key ways in which these businesses will be affected and these include:

1. Additional charges and price hikes 

For one thing, there will be a daily charge for all vehicles not meeting the LEZ standard and for HGVs and lorries, this charge can range between £100 to £300 a day depending on the size of the vehicle. This additional cost will have an impact on businesses trying to operate in these areas, for the most part, by increasing their daily running costs.

This, in turn, could mean that lots of haulage providers have to start charging higher rates to their customers. Although unavoidable in many cases, this could then cost them customers or cause them to shop around to find the companies offering the most competitive prices. 

2. Vehicles have to meet new standards 

Moving forward, haulage companies will have to seriously think about any new vehicles or lorries they’re buying and whether these are compliant with LEZ regulations. If they opt for vehicles that aren’t, they must be prepared to pay the additional daily fee. 

That said, there will come a point where all vans, lorries, trailers, etc., will legally have to comply with these standards and this is estimated to be by 2050. This could mean replacing or adapting entire fleets, which comes at a great cost to the company. 

Although that’s a little way off in the future yet, it is certainly something businesses need to keep in mind over the coming years. 

3. Changing routes 

As well as facing financial changes and challenges, haulage providers will also have to think about how new LEZ regulations impact daily operations. In order to avoid additional charges, some vehicles may need to change their existing routes. The same applies to vehicles that are banned from certain areas. 

While not the end of the world, this can cause operational issues in the short term and mean that the team must carefully replan delivery routes based on where these zones are located. 

4. Moving delivery hubs 

Finally, those companies currently based within a Low Emission Zone may have to think about relocating their delivery hubs in order to avoid having to pay these charges on a regular basis. While this could save money in the long run, it’s certainly not a small undertaking and could lead to soaring costs in the short term as they move these hubs. 

In summary

Ultimately, there are several big ways in which haulage providers could be affected by new LEZ regulations and future moves towards a greener planet, and these include:

  • Increased operational costs, particularly for those with routes through Low Emission (and ULE) Zones
  • The need to increase costs for customers to cover these price hikes 
  • Having to replace or update old vehicles to meet LEZ regulations at additional cost to the business 
  • Planning new routes that avoid these zones 
  • Setting up or moving delivery hubs outside of these areas, creating financial and operational challenges 

While there is no denying that we need to take action to protect the planet for future generations, there will be an adjustment period for many businesses. 

Once new measures are in place, greener initiatives will become the norm. But for now, haulage providers will have to spend some time reevaluating their current operations; preparing to make big changes and dealing with the increase in prices. 

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