As many as four in ten small and medium sized businesses may be unaware of the potential introduction of Clean Air Zones, polling by the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association has suggested.
Councils including Birmingham, Leeds and Southampton have outlined proposals to establish CAZs from next year – resulting in charges for some vehicles to drive in polluted areas.
And, over 20 other authorities are also considering whether to put forward similar proposals, as part of efforts to improve air quality.
Potential charges could add up to as much as £100 per day for some of the most polluting heavy goods vehicles and buses in some areas, while in some regions charges are also being considered for private car users.
But, according to the polling carried out by YouGov in June on behalf of the BVRLA many businesses are unaware of the potential measures being proposed.
According to the survey, which questioned up to 627 small businesses using vehicles, around 40% were unaware that CAZs were being considered in towns and cities before the polling took place.
BVRLA said that over a third of those questioned were unaware that the CAZs are likely to involve charges for all but the ‘most modern and least polluting’ diesel vehicles.
BVRLA chief executive, Gerry Keaney said: “Unless more is done to publicise the impact of these various Clean Air Zones and mitigate their impact, hundreds of thousands of businesses across the country will be hit with a new regional road transport tax that will bring additional cost and confusion at a time when firms are already dealing with Brexit-related economic uncertainty.
“We are particularly concerned about truck operators, who are more likely to be impacted by these zones, face the biggest charges and will struggle to find and afford CAZ-compliant vehicles.â€?
BVRLA has called for more publicity around CAZs to ensure that businesses will be aware of what impact they are likely to have.
Mr Keaney added: “Our members have spent the last ten years helping businesses to meet the requirements of the London Low Emission Zone and they understand the costs and operational challenges that businesses will face with the introduction of new Clean Air Zones across the UK.â€?