Last edited 03 Dec 2020

Low emission zone for non-road mobile machinery

Since 2008, heavy duty diesel road vehicles have had to meet emissions standards to avoid being charged for travelling within the London Low Emission Zone (LEZ).

On 14 August 2014, Mayor of London Boris Johnson announced plans to further improve the capital’s air quality by requiring construction equipment to meet standards for particulates (PM10) and nitrogen oxides (NOx). This is described as a ‘low emission zone for non-road mobile machinery’ (NRMM). In addition, it was announced that new measures would be introduced to control dust from construction and demolition activity.

It is estimated that up to 12 per cent of nitrogen oxide and 15 per cent of particulate pollution in London comes from construction and demolition activity. The new measures are expected to cut these emissions by nearly 50 per cent by 2020.

The measures were implemented on 1 September 2015, introduced by 'The control of dust and emissions during construction and demolition - Supplementary Planning Guidance', which replaced The Control of Dust and Emissions from Demolition and Construction Best Practice Guidance published by London Council’s and the Mayor in 2006.

Under the new measures, equipment over 10 years old must be replaced or retrofitted on all developments in central London and major developments in outer London (10 homes or more or 1,000 sq foot in other developments). However, there are exemptions for specialist construction machinery where pieces of equipment are not available at the required emission standard or in the volumes required.

The standards will tighten across the whole of London in 2020, complementing the introduction of an Ultra-Low Emission Zone in central London.

An online register has been created for site managers to register construction machinery within the London catchment area. After an initial six-month introductory period, should a site not meet emissions standards, managers will be in breach of planning requirements. Penalties will depend on the individual borough but could result in a delay to the completion of a project.

The Mayor suggested that construction machinery is generally replaced less frequently than cars or vans. He said: “By replacing the oldest and most polluting bulldozers and machinery on building sites we can greatly reduce harmful emissions and boost our air quality. We’ve all walked past construction sites and seen thick clouds of dust generated from equipment that simply hasn’t been updated or replaced in decades. This new guidance will reduce NOx and is part of a series of strong measures including the Ultra Low Emission Zone from 2020, that will greatly reduce London’s air pollution from all emission sources.”

Dr Claire Holman from the Institute of Air Quality Management said: “This is an important step in reducing emissions from demolition and construction sites that are both annoying and damaging to human health. These standards have rightly taken into account the impact on air quality and will be a key part of the planning process of new developments.”

Managing Director of the Construction Plant-hire Association. Colin Wood said: “We are pleased to support the Low Emission Zone for construction machinery, having worked collaboratively with the Greater London Authority on its development. We are committed to working with the industry to help them improve London’s air quality.”

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