The trade body representing the freight industry has cautiously welcomed proposals announced last week for Clean Air Zones in Leeds and Birmingham, describing the plans as showing â€˜some steps forward for managing the impacts on businessesâ€™.
The Freight Transport Association (FTA), has previously expressed concerns that Clean Air Zones, which a number of local authorities are looking to implement to address air pollution from road transport, will have a significant impact on businesses, particularly haulage firms operating in city centres.
Among the plans announced last week, Leeds city council has revealed that it has revised its proposals for a charging zone, reducing the proposed area covered by the CAZ and lowering the amount to be paid by HGV operators from Â£100 to Â£50 per day to drive within the zone.
Birmingham city council has also outlined its proposals for a city centre CAZ inside its Middle Ring Road, which would apply to the â€˜most polluting vehiclesâ€™, including buses, coaches, lorries, taxis and private hire vehicles, vans and private cars.
FTA has claimed that levying significant charges on HGVs could â€˜create an additional tax on thousands of businesses and disrupt supply chains across the countryâ€™.
But, responding to the proposals laid out last week, the organisation has said that while there will be â€˜significant impacts on businessesâ€™ from both schemes, it has welcomed in particular the changes to the Leeds proposals, which it says will affect fewer businesses than initial proposals outlined in December.
The organisation has claimed that the change to the proposed boundary of the cityâ€™s CAZ has been reduced the number of HGVs located within the zone from 13,000 to an estimated 4,500.
FTAâ€™s head of UK policy, Christopher Snelling, said: â€œCAZs only bring a temporary air quality benefit, bringing forward what was coming anyway. We need councils to implement these Zones with as much sensitivity to local businesses as possible. Leeds, especially, has listened to the concerns we and others expressed and reduced the impacts while still achieving their air quality objectives and we urge other cities to do the same.
â€œIn both Leeds and Birmingham there will still be substantial impacts on small businesses, both from the costs of undertaking their daily work and shortening the lifespan of existing vehicles, that threaten their business models.â€¯CAZs need to be a last resort and as small as possible where they are used.â€
Leeds and Birmingham city councils are two of five local authorities required by the government to set up Clean Air Zones by 2020 in order to address nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions from road transport, which have breached legal limits since 2010.
Other local authorities including Nottingham, Derby and Southampton are also required to set up Clean Air Zones before the end of the decade, with Southampton having also outlined its initial proposals for a CAZ last week (see airqualitynews.com story).
Papers published by the city council indicate that officers favour a â€˜Class B CAZâ€™, which would see buses, coaches and heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) below the Euro VI emissions standard, charged up to Â£100 per day to enter the zone.