Driving A Pre-2002 Van in London? 2012 LEZ Rule Changes Affect You

London LEZ sign - courtesy of Martin Addison

London LEZ sign - courtesy of Martin Addison

If you live or work inside the M25 and drive a van (or minibus or motorhome) that was registered before 1st January 2002, then the 2012 changes to the London Low Emission Zone affect you.

Vans Under 3.5t & Minibuses Under 5t

Starting from the 3rd January 2012, vans weighing more than 1,205kg unladen and with a gross vehicle weight of up to 3,500kg (3.5t) must meet Euro 3 emissions standards or pay a £100 per day charge to drive inside the LEZ.

Similarly, minibuses with more than 8 passenger seats and a gross vehicle weight of up to 5 tonnes must also meet the Euro3 standard.

These changes only apply to diesel vehicles – petrol models are unaffected. Euro 3 became mandatory from October 2001, so if your van was registered after then, it will probably be compliant. However, for reasons best known to themselves, Transport for London (TfL) has set the cutoff date for automatic compliance to be 1st January 2002.

To make things even more confusing, a number of companies were producing vans with Euro 3 engines from as early as July 2000 – such as Ford Transit models. These ‘early adopters’ have now registered with TfL, so if your van is one of the early Euro 3 models, it should be recognised as such.

However, there are no guarantees! To check whether TfL believes your van or minibus will be compliant with the 2012 rules, visit the online compliance checker:

Click here to visit the Tfl Compliance Checker (choose the VRM/number plate option)

If you believe your van is Euro 3 compliant but the TfL Compliance Checker does not agree, you will have to prove that it is compliant or pay £100 per day to use it within the LEZ from 3rd January 2012.

Vans Over 3.5t

Vans over 3.5t are classified as lorries and are subject to more stringent new rules.

Starting from 3rd January 2012, all vans with a gross vehicle weight of more than 3,500kg will need to be compliant with Euro 4 emissions standards.

The cutoff date for this is 1st October 2006, but as with lighter vans, some manufacturers were producing Euro 4 engines before they became mandatory in October 2006.

These early adopters of the Euro 4 standard have (mostly) registered their compliant vehicles with TfL, so if you enter your registration number into the TfL Compliance Checker, you should get a thumbs up.

Click here to visit the Tfl Compliance Checker (choose the VRM/number plate option)

If the compliance checker says you vehicle is not Euro 4 compliant but you think it is, then it is up to you to prove it to TfL.

From 3rd January 2012, if you drive within the LEZ in a non-compliant vehicle, you have to pay a fee of £200 per day (or be fined £500 per offence).

What To Do Next?

If you van is compliant with the 2012 LEZ rules, then you have no problem. If it isn’t – but you still need to use it inside the LEZ (which occupies most of the area inside the M25, but not the M25 itself), then you will need to decide what to do.

The LEZ rules are being enforced by Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras – so there will be no avoiding the penalties if you try to ignore the rules.

Some vans can have diesel particulate filters fitted to their exhaust systems to make them compliant. However, these are expensive (£1500-£3000) and not suitable for all types of van. In addition, they have a record of being troublesome if they are used in town all the time without any longer, high-speed journeys.

If you only need to make occasional visits to the LEZ, the cheapest solution may be to rent a van whenever you need one. For more regular use, you may need to consider long-term rental, leasing or buying a new van – there are no exemptions from these rules except for London taxis.

Visit www.tfl.gov.uk/roadusers/lez/ for more information.

2 Responses to “Driving A Pre-2002 Van in London? 2012 LEZ Rule Changes Affect You”

  1. London 2012 LEZ Changes – Your Motorhome Might Be Compliant After All… Says:

    […] list covers vehicles registered as ‘motor caravans’ only; other requirements apply to vans and […]

  2. London LEZ Vehicle Hire Warning – New Rules From 03/01/2012 - UK Van & Van Hire News Says:

    […] Van hire customers renting vans from companies operating older vans should be aware that the rules for driving into the London Low Emission Zone change from 3rd January 2012. […]

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