LONDON – The mayor of London has incurred the wrath of truckers and operators of light-commercial vehicles by enforcing a clean-air zone 17 months ahead of schedule.

Both the U.K.’s British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Assn. (BVRLA) and the Road Haulage Assn. (RHA) have slammed Mayor Sadiq Khan’s decision to implement the capital’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) as early as April 2018 despite extensive talks with both industry bodies. The zone effectively means owners of any commercial diesel vehicle that does not meet the latest Euro VI exhaust emissions standards will face a daily penalty of £100 ($132).

Both industry groups have warned the impact on commerce could be catastrophic for the city, saying many smaller companies will not be able to afford replacing vehicles as little as five years old.

“The Mayor and TFL (Transport for London) have ignored our advice and will now bring the Central London ULEZ in 17 months early,” RHA chief executive Richard Burnett says. “This flies in the face of common sense and our consultation response.

“Since the early introduction of the ULEZ was first proposed, we have pushed hard for a phased approach that will improve air quality and maintain the economy of London. More than half the (Great Britain) lorry fleet will not be Euro VI when the ULEZ is introduced. Bringing the date forward by 17 months is little more than a means of quickly bringing in revenue to cover the mayor’s other plans for the city.”

BVRLA chief executive Gerry Keaney says that where London leads, other U.K. cities will follow, placing a serious strain on many of its members.

“Many of these operators will be small and medium-sized businesses that rely on buying secondhand vehicles from larger fleets and can’t afford to go and buy a whole new Euro VI (-compliant) fleet at short notice,” he says.

“Diesel vehicles play an essential role in transporting goods and people around the country, but the emissions they produce on low-speed urban roads means they have no long-term future in our cities. We need a carefully blended set of incentives and restrictions that removes the oldest, most-polluting diesel vehicles without crippling our economy or punishing people for decisions they have already made.”