Clean Air Zone implementation concerns of industry trade bodies
Earlier this month Environment Minister, Jesse Norman met with industry leaders from The Road Haulage Association (RHA), British Vehicle Rental & Leasing Association (BVRLA), Freight Transport Association (FTA) and National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA); to discuss the industry’s concerns regarding Clean Air Zones (CAZ) plans that local authorities appear to be rushing to implement.
The discussion was based around a joint six-point plan for CAZs entitled: ‘The Way Forward’. This plan lists recommendations from the trade bodies, which they believe can help improve air quality, which we want to achieve. But crucially the plan would remove the huge punitive charges proposed along with unnecessary bureaucracy.
What they plan calls for are:
- consistent CAZ operating standards
- Smarter use of road space
- a phased approach to supporting transition to cleaner vehicles
All this would help ensure that while undertaking clean air requirements, hauliers would not be forced to huge expenses which would see many operators unable to continue business. Ministers have already agreed that charging operators working in urban areas should be a “last resort” and HGVs operators should not be priced out of operating in cities.
The trade bodies reminded the minister that the haulage industry has nearly halved its NOx emissions in the past four years.
Richard Burnett, RHA chief executive, said:
“We welcome Government’s commitment to improve air quality but local authorities pricing lorries off the road is not the way to go about it. Ministers confirmed in our meeting earlier that local authorities should consider all options and that charging should be a last resort. They also highlighted that it is up to local authorities to decide which vehicles would be charged, when charges should apply and the level of charge. If Clean Air Zones are not handled properly we will have more vans making deliveries, congestion will increase and so will pollution. Clean Air Zones will only reduce emissions if they target polluters proportionately.”
The Chief Executive of BVRLA, Gerry Keaney added:
“The fleet industry can help Government to meet its air quality ambitions but we need more support for HGV operators who face particular cost and operational challenges in upgrading their fleets. We rely on commercial vehicles accessing towns and cities for deliveries and any Clean Air Zone policy that deters trucks is likely to increase the usage of vans. 99% of our members’ LCV fleet is diesel so any initiative that increases the number of vans on our roads will not tackle pollution levels. Commercial operators need time and incentives to upgrade their fleets.”
Director of the NFDA commercial Vehicle Division, Sue Robinson said:
“It is essential that we encourage operators and logistics companies to move to trucks with cleaner engines. Progressive action is needed to ensure that operators can improve their vehicle fleets, not just by purchasing new Euro 6 commercials, but also by upgrading to cleaner Euro 5 used trucks to replace old and dirty diesel HGVs. This is why it is important that a graduated CAZ levy charge is introduced in order to encourage all hauliers to do their bit in improving air quality.”
And finally David Wells, FTA chief executive, stated:
“Placing all the burden on local areas to accelerate air quality improvements risks the livelihoods of many small business around the country. Government must help local authorities avoid the most damaging effects on the local businesses that use trucks or vans.”