Air quality regulation update: buses, coaches and freight

More than half of all new buses and coaches registered in the UK in 2015 met the new, cleaner Euro VI emissions standard. This represents a threefold improvement on 2014, but with a ban on Euro V bus sales coming in January 2017, many believe this is not fast enough.

According to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) there were 2,143 of the newly registered buses and coaches met the Euro VI standard – equating to 53.5% of the total last year. This was up from 526 compliant models in 2014 and ten in 2013.

Car's fumes emissions

The Euro VI standard is part of a series of European Union directives designed to bring down vehicle emissions right the way across Europe. The most significant improvement on the Euro V legislation is the much tighter controls on the levels of Nitrogen Oxide in emissions.

Real world testing on Euro VI buses carried out in London found a massive 95% reduction in levels of Nitrogen Oxide emissions compared with Euro V compliant buses.

This was good news for the Government because in April last year, the Supreme Court ruled that Britain was in breach of European air quality standards and said that the government needed to act to reduce levels of Nitrogen Oxide in the atmosphere.

Although progress in reaching this goal has been slow, the UK bus industry now seems to be catching on. January 2016 was the last month that new vehicles could be sold in the marketplace without the Euro VI standard. However, Euro V buses that are in the sales pool will still be available for purchase until January 2017.

SMMT chief executive, Mike Hawes said: “Industry has invested billions of pounds in advanced vehicle technology that delivers real results so it is encouraging to see this rapid uptake of Euro-VI in the UK.

“The UK automotive sector remains committed to working alongside operators, government and local councils to encourage widespread adoption of the latest vehicles that will help dramatically improve the air quality in our towns and cities.”

The SMMT also reported that operators in Glasgow and Birmingham were on the forefront of Euro VI investment with more than four out of five complying with Euro VI regulations. The biggest fleet in the country in London had renewed just over half of its vehicles.

TfL’s new low emission freight programme

Meanwhile, freight and fleet operators in London should be aware of Transport for London’s (TfL) new five-year industry-led programme to reduce emissions in the nation’s capital.

Announced at the end of January, the LoCity programme will bring together fleet operators, vehicle manufacturers, fuel providers and public sector organisations to help clean up the city. TfL says that a whopping 85 per cent of London’s goods arrive by road and freight makes up 17 per cent of London’s road traffic.

In a similar vein to the European vehicle emissions legislation, LoCity aims to increase the availability and uptake of low emission vans and lorries in London.

LoCity will have three workstreams focusing on:

  • Increasing the availability and affordability of low emission vans and lorries.
  • Improving the alternative fuel infrastructure, such as electric charging points and the use of hydrogen fuel.
  • Improving policies, procurement and land use planning to increase the use and viability of low emission vans and lorries.

London’s Transport Commissioner, Mike Brown said: “Over the next five years LoCity will begin improving London’s air quality by encouraging the take up of low emission vehicles. We’re working with vehicle manufacturers, infrastructure providers and the industry to make these vehicles a realistic choice for operators.”