Transport operators all across Europe have been hit with heavy London Low Emission Zone (LEZ) financial penalties – even when their trucks are compliant with at least the Euro IV emissions standards. In some cases, these financial penalties can run into tens of thousands of pounds. Hauliers in this position need to understand how the London LEZ scheme works, and what they can do to challenge these penalties.
The London Low Emission Zone (LEZ) is an area covering almost all of London. Trucks entering the LEZ currently have to comply with at least the Euro IV emissions standards. If they do not meet at least the Euro IV standard, they can only enter the LEZ by paying a daily charge of 200 pounds. If they enter the LEZ without paying the daily charge, they face a financial penalty of 1,000 pounds for each day they enter the LEZ. This rises to 1,500 pounds if it is not paid in 28 days.
Trucks that do meet at least the Euro IV emissions standard do not have to pay to enter the LEZ – provided the vehicle has been pre-registered on the LEZ database held by the UK authorities which operate the scheme. Trucks registered in the UK will automatically appear on the LEZ database, but non-UK registered trucks will not. This means that European hauliers operating Euro IV trucks into London must register their vehicles on the LEZ database in advance. If they do not, they will face a penalty of 1,000 pounds for every day a truck enters the zone.
In some cases, operators of non-UK registered vehicles who have failed to register them in advance on the LEZ database have received tens of thousands of pounds in penalties, even when their vehicles comply with the Euro IV, V or VI emissions standards.
Challenging LEZ penalties
Transport operators who have been issued with London Low Emission Zone Penalties have the right to challenge them by way of written representations. Be warned however: time limits apply and it is important that any written representations are carefully prepared with supporting evidence.
Certain types of representations will typically not be accepted – for example: not knowing about the existence of the London LEZ scheme is not typically accepted as a ground of appeal. Hauliers who have received lots of penalties should consider seeking professional legal help from a UK transport lawyer.
If handled properly, it is often possible to persuade the UK authorities to cancel the penalties. If a challenge is rejected, there is a further right of appeal to a tribunal in London.
What happens if you don’t pay?
Transport operators who receive penalties but neither pay them nor successfully challenge them are taking a big risk. The UK authorities will typically pass the debt to a European debt collection agency who may continue to pursue the debt. The size of the debt will increase the longer the enforcement process goes on for.
Be warned – the London Ultra Low Emission Zone is coming
From 8th April 2019, the London Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) will be in place in central London. All trucks entering the ULEZ will have to comply with at least the Euro VI emissions standards and be registered in advance on the ULEZ database, or must pay a 100 pounds daily charge. If they do neither, they will face a penalty of 1,000 pounds – this is in addition to any LEZ penalty.
This means that a European haulier operating a Euro VI truck into central London after 8th April 2019 which has not been registered on the UK database in advance, can expect to receive a penalty totaling 2,000 pounds per day. This rises to 3,000 pounds if not paid or challenged within 28 days.
European transport operators intending to operate their trucks into London should:
– understand how the London Low Emission Zone scheme works,
– check their vehicles meet at least the Euro IV emissions standards,
– register their vehicles on the LEZ database in advance,
– consider challenging any penalties received.