15th March 2017

Illegally High Pollution and Why the New Rules for London are Flawed

Later this year ,London Mayor Sadiq Khan will introduce a ‘Toxicity Charge’ for older, more polluting vehicles, and in 2020, just three short years away, an ‘Ultra Low Emission Zone’ will be created in central London. No pre-2014 diesels will be allowed here, well unless you want to receive a fine of up to £1000… HGV and van drivers throughout London will have their business severely impeded by these new rules and the Freight Transport Association anticipates incredible strain on the supply chain of businesses in London as a result.

Then this week, a study was revealed to have found that some smaller, diesel powered vehicles produce Nitrous Oxide (NOx) emissions far exceeding the permissible EU limits. One example given was a Volkswagen Polo (with a 1.4 litre turbodiesel engine) with emissions 13 times higher than EU law allows, comparable to a fully laden HGV. Other models that recorded very high levels of pollution included a Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra and a BMW 3 Series.

One of the reasons given as to why the results for these smaller diesel powered cars were so high is that the emissions controls that help to reduce pollution are large and costly; two things unwelcome in small hatchbacks. These new laws will certainly have an impact on the transport of commercial goods throughout London, be it by van or HGV. Public perception of diesel vehicles has undergone a dramatic U-turn, initially they were praised for those extra miles you get per gallon, the government encouraged people to move from petrol under the pretence of a cleaner engine. But now the tables have turned, more focus is being heaped on NOx emissions and the dangers they pose instead of the added efficiency.

While any reduction in something that can harm public health is, of course, very welcome, these new laws are not perfect. Even if you ignore the dramatic impact such charges and fines will have on businesses and supply chains in London, they offer exemptions for motorbikes and mopeds. Two wheelers often emit more NOx than cars, especially newer cars, as do the countless buses usually sat idling in traffic relying on their diesel engine because their batteries have failed.

While a public health is a nice thought, these new rules are flawed, they’ll impact businesses throughout London at a time when every effort should be made to bolster the economy and they don’t address other issues that contribute to the much-publicised public health crisis. Will the regulations expand to cover high emitting motorbikes? What about diesel hatchbacks that have somehow made it to market despite their illegal emissions? We can but hope for a fairer strategy to improve London’s air.

Diesel Dynamics Limited (DDL) is a company specialising in improving the fuel economy in a range of vehicles, including HGVs. By utilising their technology, Adnam’s have recently slashed their fuel consumption by 30%. Savings are achieved through either engine management upgrades or installing a dual fuel capability on existing trucks. In addition to impressive fuel savings, NOx emissions are reduced greatly, by up to 60%. The costs of implementation are recouped within approximately 18 months.

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