Temporary exemptions for the Non-Road Mobile Machinery LEZ

15 June 2020

Construction firms will be able to apply for a six-month exemption from new Low Emission Zone standards for polluting diggers and bulldozers, in recognition of the challenges caused by Covid-19. 

New, tighter standards for construction machinery are to be introduced on 1 September 2020. However, the coronavirus pandemic has had an impact on supply chains, making it more difficult for construction companies to prepare their machinery for the new standards. Challenges include delays to the retrofitting of existing machinery and interruptions to the supply of new equipment. 

In response, the Mayor is introducing a new six-month exemption period from the new Low Emission Zone standards to support companies as they work to comply with the standards. This will run from September 2020 until the end of February 2021. Existing standards, in place since 2015, will continue to apply.  

Tackling emissions from London’s construction sites is a key part of the Mayor’s plans to tackle London’s toxic air. Machinery such as diggers and bulldozers are currently responsible for 15 per cent of local PM2.5 emissions in London and the fifth largest source of nitrogen oxides (NOx). 

The Non-Road Mobile Machinery Low Emission Zone uses the Mayor’s planning powers to reduce emissions from construction machinery. The tightening of the standards is part of a number of steps towards a longer-term zero emission target for construction machinery.

Deputy Mayor for Environment and Energy, Shirley Rodrigues said: “As London recovers from the coronavirus pandemic and building restarts at full capacity, we’re working closely with the construction industry to drive down emissions. The NRMM Low Emission Zone is the first of its kind in the world and will ensure that we reduce emissions from machinery on construction sites. However Covid-19 has created inevitable disruptions to suppliers of new construction machinery and retrofit services. That’s why the Mayor has granted a six-month exemption period to give site operators more time to prepare machinery for the new standards and support London’s green recovery.” 

Notes to editors

  • For relevant machinery, the exemption will normally be granted without the need for the site operator to provide additional supporting information. However, City Hall will review each application on a case-by-case basis and reserves the right to ask for supporting information where required. 
  • Most sites are already compliant with the existing standards, so it is not expected the scheme will cause difficulties for the sector in the immediate return to full scale work over the summer. 
  • City Hall continues to support the use of retrofit technology to reduce emissions from older machinery. 


Background on NRMM


  • NRMM, like road vehicles, are subject to progressive emissions limits, so newer machines are designed to have lower emission than older ones.   
  • NRMM such as diggers and bulldozers, are currently responsible for up to 15 per cent of local PM2.5 emissions in London and the fifth largest source of oxides of Nitrogen (NOx).  This is likely to grow as traffic-related emissions decline and as construction increases across London. 
  • The NRMM LEZ was introduced in September 2015 and currently applies to all major developments in London, and all developments of any size in the Central Zone and Canary Wharf areas.  
  • The NRMM LEZ uses an online register, which allows construction sites to demonstrate that the machinery on site is compliant. This is backed up by active enforcement by the boroughs supported through the Mayor’s Air Quality Fund. 
  • Older machinery can continue to be used if it is fitted with high quality emissions control equipment, similar to the retrofit kits used on buses in London.   


Changes in standards 


  • The current standards are that machines must meet stage IIIA emissions limits throughout London, and they must meet at least stage IIIB in the Central Activity Zone and Canary Wharf areas.  
  • From the 1st September 2020, all machinery in the Central Activity Zone (CAZ), Canary Wharf Areas and, for the first time, Opportunity areas (OA) will need to meet at least stage IV.  
  • All machinery on major development sites in the rest of London should meet at least stage IIIB.  
  • These standards will go up to stage IV throughout London in 2025. 


Reminder for action 


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