Hauliers and fleet managers have appealed to the government for exemptions to ensure that Heavy Goods Vehicle operators are not ‘unfairly’ impacted by the introduction of Clean Air Zones.
FTA, the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA), the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) and the Road Haulage Association (RHA) have written to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, highlighting a series of measures that they claim could ‘lessen the impact’ on businesses.
A number of local authorities across the country are weighing up the introduction of Clean Air Zones in order to meet targets to reduce air pollution. In some areas this will see charges imposed for the operation of some of the most polluting vehicles, particularly around air pollution hotspots.
Among the first authorities to outline its proposals for a Clean Air Zone is Leeds city council, which has proposed to levy a £100 per-day charge to operate Euro V or earlier diesel HGVs within a designated zone in the city centre (see airqualitynews.com story).
According to the trade bodies, levying significant charges on HGVs could ‘create an additional tax on thousands of businesses and disrupt supply chains across the country’.
The groups add that a potential £100-per-day HGV charge could equate to an additional 25% on the daily running cost of a non-compliant vehicle.
FTA’s head of UK policy, Christopher Snelling commented: “We support the need to improve the quality of air in our cities, but given CAZs only bring forward the beneficial change that is coming anyway by a couple of years, we don’t want this to be at the cost of small businesses’ ability to trade.
“HGVs are an integral part of the economy at both national, regional and local level. Currently, there are no commercially or operationally viable alternatives to diesel in terms of HGV motive power. Over 90% of everything the public eat, drink, wear and build with travels on an HGV at some point in the supply chain.”
Within the letter, the groups have outlined various measures that they claim could lessen the impact of CAZs on heavy goods vehicle operators.
This includes the potential for CAZ charge exemptions at night time or on certain routes, for example roads leading to garages, test centres or distribution hubs that are just inside a zone.
Alongside this the groups have advocated introducing a reduced charge for Euro V trucks, helping to maintain their used value and which it is claimed would make it easier for operators to sell these vehicles and fund an upgrade to Euro VI HGVs.
The trade bodies have also called upon the government to ensure that CAZ standards and administration are consistent across the country and ‘communicated properly’.