Tough new air quality standards imposed on London construction site machinery

From today (1 September) construction site managers throughout London must retrofit or replace old, polluting machinery in a world-first step to help clean up the capital's air.

Digger. Image: MorgueFile
Digger. Image: MorgueFile

The Low Emission Zone for construction machinery aims to reduce damaging emissions from diggers, bulldozers and related vehicles and will complement efforts to cut transport emissions. Up to 12 per cent of nitrogen oxide and 15 per cent of particulate pollution in London come from construction and demolition activity. 

Under the new rules, all construction sites in the centre of London and sites building more than ten homes or larger than 1,000 square feet in Greater London will have to replace or retrofit polluting equipment which is more than 10 years old.

Some exemptions will be provided if equipment is not available at the emission standard stipulated or in the volumes required to meet demand.

An online register has been set up at for site managers to register any construction machinery within the London catchment area.

After an initial six-month period focusing on education and awareness-raising, should a site not meet the emissions standards required, its managers will be in breach of their planning requirements as imposed by the relevant borough.

Penalties could include a delay to the final completion of a project which could have an implied financial cost for the company concerned.

The Construction Plant-hire Association has worked with the Greater London Authority on the development of the new rules and says it is committed to helping the industry follow the new standards.

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