A recent blunder by Transport for London has led to the compensation of 35 van operators who were wrongly advised their vehicles no longer met the requirements of the London Low Emission Zone.
The scheme, introduced in January 2012, is a method of encouraging the most polluting commercial vehicles driving around Greater London clean up their act. To drive through the capital without paying a charge, commercial vehicles must meet certain emissions standards which limit the amount of air pollution they produce.
In consultation with the 35 van operators in question, Transport for London advised their vehicles should either be modified or replaced to avoid paying the £100 charge or £500 fine for entering the zone. However, this advice was incorrect, as it transpired that the vans in question were already compliant or were outside of the scheme’s remit.
Five of the van owners who had replaced their vans as a direct result of the false information approached their local government ombudsman with their grievances.
The ombudsman, Dr Jane Martin, found that Transport for London had made ‘fundamental errors’ when it came to assessing the vehicles’ compliance with the regulations as well as neglecting to advise the van operators to make their own checks.
The ombudsman ruled that although Transport for London had attempted to inform vehicle owners which vans were affected by the changes to the London Emission Zone, some of the information they provided was inaccurate and caused the vehicle owners unnecessary expense.
Given the ombudsman’s findings, Transport for London agreed to pay a total of £40,000 compensation to the five operators, with a £10,000 payout to one business which had replaced seven of its fleet of vans, only to discover they had been compliant with Low Emission Zone regulations all along. The ombudsman also recommended Transport for London compensates the other 30 van owners who contacted them with their complaints.
A spokesman for Transport for London, said: “We were heavily reliant on information provided by Government agencies and vehicle manufacturers. Unfortunately, in a small number of cases the information we received was not accurate, resulting in a few operators paying for changes which were not necessary”.
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