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Airing hot topics

Nick Johnson reports from this year’s CPA Plant Conference which included several presentations designed to help delegates better understand and influence the future of construction plant hire.

Held in a more central venue at the Heart of England Conference & Events Centre near Coventry, the 2017 CPA Plant Conference really scored well. Topics such as the work being done to improve air quality in London and the future of the CITB (Construction Industry Training Board) were exceptionally well-timed.

Delivered so shortly after the Mayor of London had introduced the new ‘T-charge’ to help tackle the capital’s ’toxic’ air, the presentation by Daniel Marsh could not have been more relevant. As part of the morning session entitled Research - The Foundation of Policy, he described the work being done to measure emissions from non- road mobile plant (NRMM) in order to formulate future LEZ (Low Emission Zone) policy aimed at improving air quality in the capital.

As the Senior Air Quality Analyst in the Environment Research Group at King’s College in London, Daniel Marsh specialises in the control of dust and emissions from construction and demolition. He is currently project managing the London Low Emission Construction Partnership (LLECP) funded through the Mayor’s Air Quality Fund. London is the most heavily populated city in Europe and Greater London Authority (GLA) figures show that 9,400 people die prematurely every year in the capital due to poor air quality.

That startling total breaks down into 5,900 from long-term exposure to nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and 3,500 from fine particles (PM2.5).

On-site plant testing

Whilst many of the problem emissions come from diesel-engined road vehicles, including plant delivery trucks, there is also a significant contribution from NRMM with diesel engines working on sites in London. So, to accurately check the current situation, Daniel Marsh and his team are carrying out on-site testing of construction plant to see how machines are performing. This will be invaluable in formulating achievable future policies to bring in cleaner machinery.

He reported that London is the first city in the world to have a Low Emissions Zone for 37kW to 560kW NRMM. This now sets a minimum Stage IIIA engine emissions requirement for relevant machines used on all major developments in Greater London, and a minimum requirement for Stage IIIB for all developments within what is called the Central Activity Zone and Canary Wharf. These stringent standards are being applied in the areas where there is the most pollution. In 2020, the NRMM LEZ policy tightens further. Then the Central Activity Zone and Canary Wharf will move up to Stage IV equipment and the rest of London moves to Stage IIIB.

Daniel Marsh advises plant hire companies seeking to supply sites in London to ensure that new purchases are the cleanest possible machines. And, if companies consider retro-fitting older models with emissions control devices such as DPFs (diesel particulate filters), the device and the fitting company must both be approved. With all the construction activity in London, it is recognised that it will not always be possible for contractors to procure all plant with the required emissions standards. In that case, it is possible to apply to the GLA for an exception to the policy.

A latest generation midi excavator in the new Low Emissions Zone for NRMM in the City of London.

Daniel Marsh urges hirers to read the ICE report “Engineering Cleaner Air” on air quality.


To support the stringent LEZ policy, there is an official NRMM register. Each site utilising plant that needs to meet the emissions requirements must register on-line both the development itself and all the machinery it is using. Moreover, it is likely that such policies will be adopted in many of the other 28 cities in the UK that are being told to clean up

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