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Freight industry concern over Scottish LEZ strategy

FTA suggest drivers need notice periods akin to seven-year lead-in time ahead of London’s planned 2020 ULEZ

Commercial vehicle operators and private motorists “need notice periods akin to those being given in Londonâ€? ahead of the implementation of low emission zones, according to the Freight Transport Association (FTA).

Responding to the publication of the draft Low Emission Strategy for Scotland (see airqualitynews.com story), the FTA expressed strong concern about the “unusually shortâ€? two-year timescales proposed in the strategy for implementing LEZs, as motorists and commercial vehicle operators need more warning in order to comply with emissions limits, the group said.

The Frieght Transport Association has criticised timescales set out in the draft Scottish LEZ strategy

The Frieght Transport Association has criticised timescales set out in the draft Scottish LEZ strategy

According to the draft Scottish Strategy, which sets out plans for a Scottish framework for LEZs, the notice period for introducing an LEZ should be a maximum of two years.

However, in London, plans for an ultra low emission zone (ULEZ) from 2020 were first announced in 2013, providing a seven-year lead-in time – although campaigners there have called for the ULEZ to be implemented sooner.

Christopher Snelling, FTA’s head of urban logistics, said: “The biggest concern in these proposals is the potential timescale for implementation. The document correctly notes that it is vital to the potential success of an LEZ that affected vehicle owners and operators are given sufficient notice to ensure compliance before the LEZ is established.â€?

Mr Snelling added that nowhere in Europe had implemented a Euro VI LEZ with only two years’ notice: “Two years’ notice might work if what is planned is a lower standard bus-only LEZ – as implemented successfully in Brighton recently. However if we are to avoid significant disruption to local economies in town and city centres, commercial vehicles operators, and we’d assume private motorists, need notice periods akin to those being given in London.â€?

According to the FTA, if a Scottish council began working towards an LEZ this year it would be implemented in 2017, meaning that any lorry older than three years would be exempt, while some van classes more than one year old would not.

Two-year-old diesel vehicles would also be exempt, said the FTA, which represents the transport interests of companies moving goods by road, rail, sea and air.

In addition, while LEZs “have an appeal to campaigners and politicians as they sound dramaticâ€?, often other “less excitingâ€? traffic measures can offer better practical solutions, such as “traffic re-sequencing in key streetsâ€?, the FTA said.

Mr Snelling also said that EU emission standards would continue to bring air quality improvements “even if no further action is takenâ€?.

He commented: “Air pollution in British cities has improved significantly in the last decades, partly thanks to the improvements in van and HGV technology that mean they now have a fraction of the emissions of the past. We are tightly regulated through the EU’s ‘Euro’ engine standards and these will continue to deliver the air quality improvements that are required of us, even if no further action is taken.â€?

The draft Scottish Low Emission Strategy consultation closes on April 10 2014.

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