New Vehicle Emission Charges (London)

From Monday, the new T-Charge (Toxicity Charge) will apply in London’s congestion charge zone. This will apply to cars, vans, minibuses, buses, coaches and heavy good vehicles. The daily T-Charge will be additional to the Congestion Charge. The T-Charge will end when the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) is in force (April 2019). The ULEZ will operate 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. The ULEZ standards will be additional to the Congestion Charge and Low Emission Zone requirements at that time. 

Further Information is here

Congestion Charge and T-Charge hours of operation : Monday – Friday, 07:00 – 18:00 – excludes Bank Holidays and the period between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day inclusive.

Vehicles included

Cars, vans, minibuses, buses, coaches and HGVs, motorised caravans and horseboxes, breakdown and recovery vehicles, private ambulances, motor hearses, dual purpose vehicles and other specialist vehicle types that do not meet the minimum Euro emission standards are subject to the T-Charge. These standards are for cars – Euro 4 (see the further information link). 

Exemptions

Motorcycles, mopeds and scooters that are exempt from the Congestion Charge are also exempt from the T-Charge. 

Taxis and private hire vehicles (PHVs) are exempt from paying the Congestion Charge and the T-Charge when actively licensed with TfL. The exemption for PHVs only applies to private hire bookings.

Other exemptions include : 

(1) Vehicles with a historic tax class (40 years and older) and/or commercial vehicles manufactured before 1973. These vehicles continue to be subject to the Congestion Charge

(2) Two-wheeled motorbikes (and sidecars) and mopeds that are exempt from the Congestion Charge

(3) Emergency service vehicles, such as ambulances and fire engines, which have a taxation class of ‘ambulance’ or ‘fire engine’ on the date of travel

(4) NHS vehicles exempt from vehicle excise duty, and Ministry of Defence vehicles

(5) Roadside recovery vehicles and accredited breakdown vehicles registered for a 100% discount from the Congestion Charge

(6) Specialist off-road vehicles such as tractors and mobile cranes (that are exempt from Low Emission Zone)

Motorised tricycles and quadricycles that are subject to the Congestion Charge are also affected. Motorcycles are not subject to the T-Charge.
9+ seater vehicles that are currently registered for a discount or are exempt from paying the charge will need to meet the required emissions standards or pay the T-Charge.

NO2 Air Quality Plan (UK)

A statutory UK Plan for tackling roadside emissions of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is published today. The documents are here.

NO2 air quality standards are set out in the following laws (implementing EU air quality standards, which give effect to World Health Organisation – WHO – air quality guidelines – found in ENV Air in the Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers and Checklists) :

– The Air Quality Standards Regulations 2010

– The Air Quality Standards (Scotland) Regulations 2010

– The Air Quality Standards Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2010

– The Air Quality Standards (Wales) Regulations 2010

The UK 2017 Air Quality Plan (NO2) has the following components:

(1) there is to be a national framework setting out the steps that local authorities need to take (no details in the Plan)

(2) there is to be financial support to enable local authorities to develop and implement their plans

• £255m Implemention Fund, for feasibility studies and local plan development and delivery – £40 million immediately

• Clean Air Fund, for local authority bids for additional money to support the implementation of measures to improve air quality. This could include interventions such as improvements to local bus fleets, support for concessionary travel and more sustainable modes of transport such as cycling, or infrastructure changes. These interventions could enable local authorities to avoid the imposition of restrictions on vehicles, such as charging zones. To ensure the Fund fits the specific needs of each local area there will be a competitive process through which local authorities bid for support. Further details will be announced later in the year.

• £100 million for retrofitting and new low emission buses. As announced in the 2016 Autumn Statement, the government will provide this funding for a national programme of support for low emission buses in England and Wales, including hundreds of new low emission buses and retrofitting of thousands of older buses.

(3) local plans (produced by local authorities, local authorities already have responsibility under the Local Air Quality Management system brought in by EU law) are to be developed and implemented at pace so that air quality limits are met (presently the UK breaches air quality limits on a routine basis in some locations). Initial local plans by end March 2018. Final local plans by end December 2018. These plans will be subject to DEFRA approval, if not approved, measures will be mandated.

(4) local authorities are to consider a wide range of innovative options, exploring new technologies and seeking to support the government’s industrial strategy so that they can deliver reduced emissions in a way that best meets the needs of their communities and local businesses. 

Their plans could include a wide range of measures such as: changing road layouts at congestion and air pollution pinch points; encouraging public and private uptake of ULEVs; using innovative retrofitting technologies and new fuels; and, encouraging the use of public transport. 

If these measures are not sufficient, local plans could include access restrictions on vehicles, such as charging zones or measures to prevent certain vehicles using particular roads at particular times. However, local authorities should bear in mind such access restrictions would only be necessary for a limited period and should be lifted once legal compliance is achieved and there is no risk of legal limits being breached again.

The 2017 Plan does not suggest that any or all of these obligations will be mandatory, unless the local plans prove insufficient.

(5) a new Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill will allow the government to require the installation of charge points for electric vehicles at motorway service areas and large fuel retailers, and to make it even easier to use electric vehicle chargepoints across the UK. This drive towards cleaner technology and zero emission transport will be reinforced by both the Clean Growth Plan and the Industrial Strategy, including investment in science and innovation through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

(6) checks by the pre-existing Market Surveillance Unit will be increased to ensure that new and existing vehicles on UK roads meet the standards that they were approved to. 

Also, please note the following re medium scale combustion plants :

Medium Combustion Plants (MCPs) are widely used to generate heat for large buildings (offices, hotels, hospitals, prisons) and industrial processes, as well as for power generation, and have been largely unregulated for emissions to air. In addition, there has been rapid growth in the use of generators with high NOx emissions in Great Britain which is expected to continue. 

Modelling indicates that such generators can lead to local breaches of the statutory hourly mean limit value for NO2. 

The UK and Welsh Governments consulted on new statutory measures to reduce emissions from MCPs and generators in 2016 with a view to introducing emission controls in England and Wales from the end of 2018, to improve air quality. The response to the consultation, published on 11 July 2017, sets out the controls which will be introduced into legislation by the end of 2017.

Scotland and Northern Ireland consulted in 2016 and 2017 respectively on measures to reduce emissions from MCPs within the same timescale as England and Wales, and sought views on controlling emissions from generators.

Also, new diesel and petrol cars and vans will be banned in the UK from 2040 in a bid to tackle air pollution, the government has announced. This is a separate pledge

UK Persistent Air Pollution (EU legal proceedings) (Update)

My post on action taken by the European Commission for breach of European laws on Air Quality is here.

ClientEarth Case

On 10 July 2014, ClientEarth’s case against the UK Government for breaching air quality limits was heard by the court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg. ClientEarth and European Commission lawyers told EU judges UK Government plans will not meet nitrogen dioxide limits in London, Birmingham and Leeds until after 2030. This is 20 years after the original legal deadline and five years later than previously admitted. The information was made publically available by Defra the day before.

European Court of Justice (ECJ) judgment from 19 November 2014 is binding on the UK courts and the national courts in all 28 EU member states. The ECJ highlighted, that limit values for NO2 has to be met since 1 January 2010, if the Member States didn’t apply for a time extension for five years. Member States are obliged to develop an air quality plan, containing effective measures to keep the time of non-compliance as short as possible. The decision indicates that national courts have to demand for any necessary measure from the national authority.

Further information is here.

UK Persistent Air Pollution (EU legal proceedings)

Letter of formal notice of legal proceedings is issued today by the European Commission to the UK for breach of the EU Directive on Ambient Air Quality and Cleaner Air in Europe. Press Release.

The UK has two months to respond.

The EU Directive contains flexibility as regards the deadlines for returning air pollution to safe levels. Although the original deadline for meeting the limit values was 1 January 2010, extensions have been agreed with Member States which had a credible and workable plan for meeting air quality standards within five years of the original deadline, i.e. by January 2015. The UK has not presented any such plan for the zones in question.

The UK Supreme Court has already declared that air pollution limits are regularly exceeded in 16 zones across the UK. The areas affected are Greater London, the West Midlands, Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire, Teesside, the Potteries, Hull, Southampton, Glasgow, the East, the South East, the East Midlands, Merseyside, Yorkshire & Humberside, the West Midlands, and the North East. The Court also noted that air quality improvement plans estimate that for London compliance with EU standards will only be achieved by 2025, fifteen years after the original deadline, and in 2020 for the other 15 zones.

20140220-130250.jpg

Utah Copper Mine Air Complaint Latest (US)

First hearing held yesterday in a US federal court of a legal action by various environmental groups (including the Sierra Club) to stop expansion at a large open cast copper mine on the grounds of air pollution.

The groups believe expansion is a violation of the US federal Clean Air Act, calling into question the interpretation of the Utah State Implementation Plan or SIP. The SIP is a complex plan of control regulations and emissions limits agreed upon by the federal US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and Utah’s Division of Air Quality (DAQ) (the applicable state government department for air quality control).

U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby did not make a ruling on the case. He said he would seek advisement.

Here is The Republic, Columbus, Indiana news article that gives detail.

Here is the information posted by the mining company about this.

Fuel Storage Projects part of Settlement (US)

Implementation of improvements to emission source control at fuel storage tanks is part of the settlement reached with USEPA over violations of the US federal Clean Air Act (CAA). In particular, the company must install and maintain a geodesic dome on one of the hydrocarbon fuel storage tanks at its Lemont refinery, as well as carbon adsorption systems on two hydrocarbon fuel storage tanks at its Lake Charles refinery. These projects are tasked with reducing emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including toxics, by more than 100 tons over the next five years.

NB: a complaint filed (by USEPA) at the same time alleges the company’s Lake Charles refinery produced fuel that exceeded the refinery’s annual average emissions limit for mobile source air toxics, including benzene. A further allegation is the company failed to sample and test reformulated gasoline blendstock at its Lemont refinery, as required by the CAA.

Here is the USEPA press release on the matter.