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Construction sector contractors servicing projects in the Ultra-Low Emission Zone

Construct the Right Insurance Reponses to Ultra-Low Emission Zones

Aug 2019

Construction sector contractors servicing projects in the Ultra-Low Emission Zone, introduced in London on April 8, 2019, are having to think differently as a result of the charges imposed, creating new solutions, with accompanying insurance risks, as each day passes.

The response to the 24/7 zone, operating 365 days a year unlike the Congestion Charge zone, is having to be rapid. According to research conducted by construction logistics company, Wilson James, a third of the construction vehicles delivering to sites in the ULEZ are not compliant with the tighter clean-air regulations that require lorries and heavier vans to meet Euro 6 standards.

As the average construction project within the ULEZ has 300 deliveries a day, if this research is correct, 100 of those vehicles would not be compliant, resulting in charges of £10,000 as the fine for a heavy vehicle is £100. From TfL’s figures, Motor Transport magazine calculates that around 500 non-compliant trucks entered the zone in the first month of its operation.

Incurring such expenses is not viable for any project and is a huge and unsustainable amount to build into tenders. Unsurprisingly, new solutions are having to be sought.

One solution, being deployed in London by MR Scaffolding Services Ltd involves heavy-duty drones, which deliver to London construction sites using autonomous control technology.

This is said to be the future of site deliveries in city centres, particularly in London, where the ULEZ will extend for HGV regulation from October 26, 2020, then incorporating Greater London too. The cost for a construction firm to upgrade a vehicle to become a 180-tonne curtain-sided, compliant vehicle meeting the Euro 6 criteria, is £75,000 – a cost that makes exploring other options great economic sense.

Another new approach involves setting up bases outside of the ULEZ area and ferrying goods into the zone via electric vans. Construction Consolidation Centres (CCCs) already exist, enabling deliveries to be organised in this manner, with contractors dispatching fully-loaded vans which are compliant and clean-air friendly. Some projects are now making the use of such facilities part of their brief and tender requirements.

However, changing the delivery habits of a lifetime and encompassing new technology, new-style delivery vehicles, operating on the basis of full rather than part loads and using hi-tech drones, drastically alters the status quo when it comes to risk. New risk assessments, training programmes and risk mitigation procedures need to be incorporated into fast-moving projects that have little time to spare and tight deadlines to meet. New circumstances necessitate notifications to insurers, declaring all changes, modifications and risk control measures that are now in place.

Swift responses have had to be introduced in London, where toxic emissions are destroying quality of life, taking lives early and impacting on the costs of public health services. Other cities are now preparing to follow suit, requiring other construction-sector firms to introduce change just as rapidly.

Experienced insurance brokers can assist hugely within such scenarios, getting the right covers in place for construction companies that are embracing change. If you require that sort of help, please use our ‘Find a Local Broker’ tool to take that first step towards the support you need.