Classic vehicle support group HCVA is lobbying for UK-wide LEZ schemes to lower the classic car exemption age to 30 years

Words: Paul Guinness

The Historic & Classic Vehicles Alliance (HCVA), an organisation representing the historic vehicle industry as well as classic car owners, is lobbying for changes to the UK’s Low Emission Zones. It is campaigning for the current exemption for vehicles registered as ‘Historic’ to be expanded, enabling all classics over 30 years old to enter cities without charge.

The HCVA is reporting positive news from Scotland, where consultations on incoming LEZ schemes have been taking place. Transport Scotland has announced that Glasgow will ramp up its LEZ to private cars and other vehicles by June 2023, with Aberdeen, Dundee and Edinburgh having their own LEZ schemes in operation by summer 2024. However, Scottish cities are actively considering exemption from charges for classic vehicles over 30 years of age rather than the 40-year rule used by cities in England.

The HCVA is welcoming the move, although it has concerns that such an exemption would only apply to unmodified vehicles. Garry Wilson, CEO of the HCVA, comments: “We’re delighted that Scottish cities are proposing a 30-year ruling for LEZ classic exemptions, but we’ve asked for clarification of what exactly constitutes a vehicle modification. We’re still waiting to hear more about this.”

Meanwhile, the extension of London’s ULEZ system to cover all boroughs within the M25 has led to further discussions between the HCVA and Transport for London, in an attempt to get the age of classic vehicle exemption lowered. “Representations have been made on this point, with the fallback being cars over 30 years being allowed,” confirms Garry Wilson. “It remains to be seen if these responses will be taken on board. We will, of course, continue to engage on these matters.”

The HCVA has requested that Transport for London reviews the age cut-off for not only the extended ULEZ but the current areas as well. It has also suggested that with many of today’s modern classics – cars that are typically between 15 and 30 years old – being used primarily as hobby and leisure vehicles, they cover low annual mileages and therefore represent little threat to London’s air quality.

Garry Wilson sees room for a compromise in terms of ‘free’ ULEZ usage for modern classics: “There should be consideration that such vehicles, if unmodified in terms of emissions systems, be allowed to be used in the ULEZ – and if not generally, certainly in the evenings and weekends to enable users to go to shows and events.”