The Air Pollution Control (Air Pollutant Emission) (Controlled Vehicles) Regulation (Regulation) was gazetted on 25 October 2013 and comes into operation on 1 February 2014.

The Regulation seeks to:

  • Phase out about 80,000 existing pre-Euro IV diesel commercial vehicles (pre-Euro IV Vehicles)
  • Set a service life limit of 15 years for diesel commercial vehicles which are newly registered on or after 1 February 2014

The pre-Euro IV Vehicles, which are equipped with compression-ignition engines, comprise goods vehicles1, light buses2 and non-franchised buses3, irrespective of whether or not such vehicles are used on a commercial or non-commercial basis.

The justifications for the introduction of the Regulation are that it will:

  • Improve roadside air quality and better protect public health
  • Reduce emissions of respirable suspended particulates and nitrogen oxides from vehicles, thereby reducing the number of premature deaths due to long-term exposure to such pollutants
  • Help achieve the new Air Quality Objectives which come into operation in 2014 (see our legal update of 23 July 2013)
  • Reduce the risk of cancer due to exposure to diesel engine exhaust fumes, which the World Health Organisation has categorised as carcinogenic

As an incentive to owners to phase out their pre-Euro IV Vehicles, the government will offer an ex-gratia payment ranging from 27 to 33 percent of the average taxable values of the new vehicles. The payment level depends on the age of the pre-Euro IV Vehicles to be phased out.

For the purposes of an application for a vehicle licence under the Road Traffic (Registration and Licensing of Vehicles ) Regulations (Cap. 374E), on the relevant dates specified under the Regulation (or the 15th anniversary of the date of first registration for a diesel vehicle registered on or after 1 February 2014 as the case may be), the vehicle’s emissions must conform to the applicable emissions standards under the Air Pollution Control (Vehicle Design Standards) (Emission) Regulations (Cap. 311J) as if the vehicle were first registered on the date of the vehicle licence application. If the vehicle does not comply with any emissions requirements under the Regulation, the Commissioner of Transport may refuse to license the vehicles under the Road Traffic Ordinance (Cap. 374).

There is a provision in the Regulation which exempts certain vehicles or types of vehicle from application of the Regulation if exceptional circumstances make it impractical or unreasonable for a vehicle to comply with the Regulation. Such exemption may be granted subject to conditions.

1A motor vehicle, or trailer, which is constructed or adapted for use primarily for the carriage of goods, but does not include a motor tricycle, or motor cycle with or without a side car attached thereto, or a village vehicle (i.e., a driver operated village vehicle, pedestrian controlled village vehicle or a golf cart).

2A motor vehicle constructed or adapted for use solely for the carriage of a driver and not more than 16 passengers and their personal effects, but does not include an invalid carriage, motor cycle, motor tricycle, private car or taxi.

3A bus which is not franchised. A franchised bus means a bus in respect of which a franchise is in force under the Public Bus Services Ordinance (Cap. 230).