Back in February our very own Steve Blackburn wrote on the FleetNews blog about the proposed changes to the London Congestion Charge and the storm it created. Much of the furore surrounding the changes was caused by the fact small diesel and hybrid cars – that are currently exempt from the charge – would no longer qualify for a discount.
At the time of writing that blog, the proposals from Transport for London (TfL) were at in consultation, and there was plenty of speculation about the exact detail of the changes. But now, with them finally out of consultation, we know the finer details of the changes due to come into effect in July and exactly how they will affect motorists.
Tough New Emission Standards
The meat of the proposal has gone unchanged – with the expected tough new emission standards being introduced. This means that from July only fully electric vehicles or vehicles that emit 75g/km or less CO2 AND meet the Euro 5 emissions standard for air quality will qualify for a 100% discount in the charge.
A new scheme, called the Ultra Low Emission Discount (ULED), which takes effect on July 1, will replace the current Greener Vehicle Discount (GVD) and the Electric Vehicle Discount. Drivers and their vehicles registered for the Electric Vehicle Discount will automatically be transferred to the new ULED. However, due to the severity of the new rules, all vehicles currently registered for GVD will not meet the criteria for the new ULED. Those small diesels and hybrids will loose their discount.
However Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, along with TfL have made a couple of changes to the proposals. Recognizing that many drivers chose to buy their cars solely to receive the discount, owners of cars registered for the GUV will still receive their discount for a “sunset period” of three years.
Other minor changes to the scheme include removing the option to pay the charge by cash in shops (ending on 26th July 2013) and increasing the penalty charge from £120 to £130 (on 20th May 2013).
Commercial Sector Tax
But for us working in the commercial sector, running our diesel vans and lorries, the news hasn’t changed. No exemption. No discount. Unless, of course, you find feasible to run electric vehicles. So it’s still a case of “electric vehicle or nothing”.
And here at Navman Wireless, our desire is still the same as set out by Steve in February – we want to see all low-emission commercial vehicles that have no choice but to enter congestion zone exempt from the charge. Maybe then it will seem more like a genuine attempt to ease congestion in central London and less of a tax on the commercial sector.