The Air Pollution Control (Air Pollutant Emission) (Controlled Vehicles) Regulation was gazetted on October 25 to phase out pre-Euro IV diesel commercial vehicles and to introduce a 15-year service limit for newly registered diesel commercial vehicles.
A spokesman for the Environmental Protection Department said that the Regulation is required to take the proposal to phase out some 80 000 pre-Euro IV diesel commercial vehicles including diesel goods vehicles forward. Non-franchised buses and light buses using an incentive-cum-regulatory approach, with the aim of improving roadside air quality and better protecting public health. Under the proposal, the Government will offer eligible vehicle owners an ex-gratia payment ranging from 27 per cent to 33 per cent of the average taxable value of comparable new vehicles.
"The Regulation will stipulate retirement deadlines for pre-Euro IV diesel commercial vehicles with reference to their respective dates of first registration, namely January 1, 2016, for the most polluting pre-Euro diesel commercial vehicles, and January 1, 2017; January 1, 2018; and January 1, 2020, for Euro I, II and III vehicles respectively. The Regulation also sets a service-life limit of 15 years for diesel commercial vehicles first registered after the commencement of the Regulation to enable timely replacement of diesel commercial vehicles in the long run for better roadside air quality," he said.
"To reduce the number of polluting diesel commercial vehicles, the Regulation requires the owners of the vehicles concerned to, on each licence application from the respective retirement deadlines or from their 15th anniversary date of first registration, as the case may be, comply with the emission standards applicable to them as if they were first registered on the date of the vehicle licence application. Failure to comply with the requirement may offer grounds for the Commissioner for Transport to refuse to license the vehicles," he added.
Phasing out pre-Euro IV polluting diesel commercial vehicles can reduce vehicular emissions of respirable suspended particulates and nitrogen oxides by 80 per cent and 30 per cent respectively. As well as contributing towards the attainment of the new Air Quality Objectives that will take effect in 2014, the reduction can also reduce by half the cancer risk associated with exposure to diesel engine exhaust fumes.
The Regulation was tabled in the Legislative Council for negative vetting on October 30. Subject to the approval of the Council, the Regulation will take effect on February 1, 2014. After the passage of the Regulation, the Government will seek funding approval from the Finance Committee for the ex-gratia payments as soon as possible with a view to implementing the scheme in the first quarter of 2014. Details of the ex-gratia payment scheme will be sent to the registered owners of pre-Euro IV diesel commercial vehicles before its commencement.