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The commercial vehicle rental industry is expecting an upsurge in business following the introduction of new London Low Emission Zone standards from next year.

Businesses or individuals running older, more polluting trucks, vans, minibuses, motorhomes and even commercial-use 4x4s could face stiff penalties when entering the zone. The most cost-effective solution for most of them will be to rent replacement vehicles for occasional trips into Greater London.

“People that travel into London on a regular basis will already have plans to replace older vehicles or fit them with particulate filters,” said John Lewis, chief executive of the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association.

But vehicle operators that make very infrequent trips to the capital are at risk of being caught out.

Transport for London (TfL) estimates that the operators of some 75,000 HGVs, buses and coaches and 72,000 light commercial vehicles (LCVs) and minibuses could be affected by new London LEZ standards which come into effect in January 2012.

“It might not make economic sense for them to buy a new vehicle or spend thousands of pounds on fitting a filter because of one or two trips to London, but they could hire a modern, Low Emission Zone-compliant van or truck for a fraction of the cost of paying the LEZ fee,” added Lewis.

TfL has launched a nationwide advertising campaign to spread awareness of the new standards and the BVRLA has asked its members, who operate thousands of rental outlets across the UK, to spread the message.

What is the new London LEZ standard?

LCVs, minibuses, camper vans, commercial-use 4x4s, pick-ups and even non-station wagon Land Rover Defenders will be brought into the scope of the zone for the first time, with owners having to meet the Euro 3 standard for particulate matter in order to avoid a daily charge of £100. Failure to pay the charge will incur a £500 penalty.

From January 2012, trucks will have to meet the Euro IV standard for particulate matter in order to avoid a £200 charge. The penalty will be £1000.

Vans and minibuses registered as new on or after 1 January 2002 and trucks registered as new on or after 1 October 2006 will already meet the new LEZ standards.

To find a BVRLA-accredited commercial vehicle rental company in your area, go to: www.bvrla.co.uk and click on the ‘Member Locator’.

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