Clarity is urgently needed to identify which vehicles will be affected in each of the Clean Air Zones, the Freight Transport Association (FTA) has said following publication of the Government’s air quality plan last week.
FTA director of UK Policy Elizabeth de Jong said: “Uncertainty will hurt industry – FTA understands we won’t know where lorries and vans will be restricted until next year, giving only a year for businesses to plan their fleets, leaving many with potentially large bills on top of rising operating costs in a difficult trading environment.”
In addition to the Ultra Low Emission Zone in London, there are five other cities (Birmingham, Derby, Leeds, Nottingham and Southampton) which will have to introduce Clean Air Zones (CAZs) by 2019. There may be other locations which, as part of their air quality plans, also decide to introduce CAZs. FTA is calling for clarity as to which vehicles will be affected as soon as possible.
With such short lead times for businesses to ensure their fleets are compliant, many will need additional support, in particular small businesses, those based within zone boundaries, specialist fleets, and van operators if included. If vans are affected by CAZs, there will be little more than two and a half years’ worth of compliant vehicles in the fleet and no established second hand market, said the FTA, with many businesses facing being locked into lease agreements which extend beyond the 2019 deadline that will be costly to get out of.
de Jong concluded: “For those whose businesses operate inside a zone, a period of grace, giving them extra time to comply would provide much-needed breathing space. Our worst fear is that some may be forced out of business altogether if the plans are not properly thought through.
“FTA is offering its experience and expertise to work with the local authorities affected, to help them develop their plans so that they achieve their aims of reducing nitrogen dioxide whilst supporting businesses and the economy.“