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Diesel van? You’ll have to cough up in the next few years – take action now.

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It will soon be 2020.  And given the speed that this year’s flown by, it will then be 2021 - when diesel-engined vehicles will start being banned from our city centres.

Bristol has become the first British city to approve a total ban on diesel cars from designated central routes between the hours of 7am and 3pm.  This ban is due to start in March 2021 and will run alongside a wider Clean Air Zone congestion charge that will incur a daily levy on commercial vehicles only.  All diesel-powered vehicles – other than taxis and emergency services - will incur fines if they stray into the area during the enforcement period. Bristol City Council also voted in favour of a wider Clean Air Zone around the city limits. Diesel powered lorries, vans, buses and taxis will be forced to pay a daily charge to enter this zone.  Taxis and vans will be charged £9 and buses and HGVs £100.

This prompted the following letter to a national newspaper…

If Bristol bans diesel vehicles (Letters, November 9), where are residents to turn when they need a plumber, an electrician, a carpenter or any other tradesman?

We all use diesel vehicles. Good luck persuading us to carry all our tools and materials on the bus.” 

To help owners of diesel cars replace their vehicles, Bristol Council has promised to roll out a scrappage scheme, probably offering city residents (and perhaps those in surrounding areas) up to £2,000 for their diesel vehicles.  But if you’re in a trade and have still got far more than £2,000 to write down on your van that represents a loss. 

Nearer to home, if you work in any of Scotland’s main city centres, you can expect similar deadlines for the phasing out of diesel.  At the time of writing, it seems that Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee and Edinburgh will, broadly speaking, ban diesels over a number of years, but generally starting with the city centres from 2021. If you’ll pardon the pun, in the current climate there is no chance of these deadlines being extended: if anything, they may be made shorter. 

The letter writer quoted above has a point. This is not going to be easy, but that doesn’t mean there is nothing you can do about it.  In my view, the key is to start thinking – and acting - now.  Vans take years to depreciate and it’s going to cost a lot of money to replace the nation’s current construction fleet with electric vehicles.  Apart from anything else, we’re going to need, I understand, a 10-fold increase in the number of charging points. This could prove challenging.

The first thing to do is get on to Mr Google and look up “Transport Scotland and Low Emission Zones”.  By doing that, I learned that Transport Scotland “aims to help those who will have most difficulty preparing for the introduction of Low Emission Zones in the four cities of Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen.”

There is seemingly a fund, offering c. £1.09million of grants to help commercial vehicles comply with new standards by retrofitting – specifically by supporting the cost of upgrading engines or exhausts on taxis, vans and HGVs in order to reduce emissions and protect public health.

Transport Scotland are also working on a tool where you’ll be able to enter your registration number to see if your vehicle is likely to comply with LEZ emission requirements. Currently, there is a basic online vehicle checker to give you an idea as to whether your van is kosher, although the results from this are not guaranteed to allow you to enter your local city centre once the new laws are introduced.

All this may be dismissed by some as a load of nonsense thought up by a bunch of environmentalists, but, again if you’ll forgive the pun, I suggest you see which way the wind is blowing.  You are going to have to change/adapt your private and commercial vehicles, whether you like it or not.  So start now…

Chris Peace, MD, Peace Recruitment


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