Since January, thousands of vehicles have had to comply with minimum Euro 3 emission standards when travelling within the LEZ. Non-compliance is clearly not an option, with the government imposing stinging daily charges and hefty fines.

As a result, many fleets will be forced to upgrade to newer compliant vehicles. Others may have to choose short-term hire to cover them for occasional visits to the capital. Long-term hire is a more effective option when operating a heavy diesel vehicle in the capital is a daily occurrence.

Where larger fleet operators are likely to have laid out a significant initial investment to ensure compliance, smaller operators may find it more challenging, not necessarily having the disposable capital to invest in new vehicle purchase. Let’s take a closer look at the facts, to see what the new regulations mean for the fleet operator.

As many as 85,000, or 37% of, vehicles already operating in the capital may be affected. UK-wide it is estimated that as many as one million light commercial vehicles out of 3.75 million could be affected by these new regulations.

Daily charges can be up to £200 for larger vehicles, such as buses and coaches, with fines for non-compliance as high as £1,000. A van travelling into the capital once a week and paying the £200 charge on each trip can result in an annual payout of £5,200.

Options to avoid paying charges include fitting a filter. However, be aware that the lead-time to have one fitted and certified can be up to three months.

Converting a van to ensure compliance is not always a viable option. It could cost more than the value of the vehicle.

The stringent emissions standards will, for the first time, include vans, lorries, buses and coaches registered before 1 January 2002 and affect all roads within the Greater London area, including those at Heathrow and parts of the M1 and M4. However, the M25 is not included. The LEZ operates 24 hours a day, 364 days a year, including Bank Holidays.

An army of cameras able to read number plates will check them against a database compiled using data from DVLA and VOSA, so avoiding the new regulations is clearly not an option.

Jonathan Pearce is Marketing Manager at Northgate Vehicle Hire