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Clean air kit will create a headache for London sites

Plant hirers and contractors upgrading kit to meet London's clean air regulations may have to spend £2,000 on every machine.
Plant groups are now urgently looking to collaborate with contractors in a bid to lessen the blow for equipment suppliers and users under the scheme proposed by London authorities.

The high cost required to fit specialist diesel particulate filters to plant engines emerged last week from the latest meeting of clean air lobby group Precis - Partnership Reducing Emissions from Construction Industry Sites.

Contractors bidding for jobs in and around the capital from January have been told to factor in extra costs to their tenders to cover the emissions controls.

The regulations are part of the Association of London Government's proposed code of practice on dust control from construction sites.

The ALG wants to apply the regulations as soon as is practically possible to high-profile construction sites, which means that Olympic contracts could be among the first to have to meet the strict dust control requirements.

A further blow to suppliers is that owners are likely to have to run their machines on full-price, low-sulphur diesel, since HM Customs has indicated that it is not minded to authorise supplies of a discounted `red' version.

The Construction Equipment Association's Tim Faithful, who attended the Precis meeting on behalf of the plant industry, said: 'Precis has said it expects the costs to be passed down the chain, so contractors and ultimately developers will have to pick up the bill.'

It has also emerged that the code, reported in last week Construction News, is likely to be taken up by other cities outside London, which authorities from areas such as Bristol and Birmingham already interested.

Concerns remain that apart from the high cost, fitting particulate filters will reduce the machines' performance and will require design changes, as well as potentially clogging up at low revs.

Mr Faithful said: 'Apparently such clean air strictures are in use in Switzerland and Austria and on the Boston Big Dig, so I have no doubt that we will be forced to fit filters over time. Our focus will be on trying to limit the amount of equipment that it has to be fitted to.

'We are all in favour of the principle of reducing emissions. But, having spent six years on integrating development of the machines, we would much rather that we were not required to make further alterations.'

He added 'If people want to register their concerns, they should contact their industry associations urgently.'

by Andrew Gaved