THE British Vehicle Rental & Leasing Association (BVRLA) is critical of Leeds City Council’s plans to introduce a new Clean Air Zone from January 2020 which will charge thousands of HGVs £50 per day to enter.
Under the Leeds proposals more than half of the city will be covered by a CAZ, which will charge pre Euro 6 HGVs.
The decision has come despite considerable consultation between the council and fleet industry representatives. The BVRLA joined with the council and the Energy Savings Trust earlier this year in hosting a round table to discuss air quality issues and proposals for a Leeds Clean Air Zone (CAZ). At this meeting the BVRLA and its members outlined a range of alternatives to a charging CAZ and ways of reducing the impact of a zone if introduced.
Throughout its engagement with Leeds and other cities, the BVRLA has made it clear that CAZs can be an important tool in tackling air quality issues in heavily polluted areas, but any introduction must be balanced against the potential impact they might have on the wider economy and people’s quality of life.
Leeds has given some consideration to the arguments and suggestions made by the BVRLA. It has halved the government’s recommended £100 fee for non-compliant HGVs and will offer an initial ‘sunset clause’ that provides a CAZ charge exemption for hauliers that can prove that they have got a Euro 6 truck on order.
• RHA chief executive, Richard Burnett said: ‘These charges would be disastrous for hauliers. An average SME operator makes around £60 profit per truck, per week, so how can anyone expect them to absorb up to £350 each week to deliver the goods the city relies on?’
He has also called into question the city’s claim that they could offer funding towards retrofit options for hauliers. Whilst retrofitting is available for buses, there’s still no product on the market for trucks. Instead, he urged the local authority to support hauliers to upgrade their fleets to the newest standard.
But why a charging zone in the first place? Aren’t there ways to reduce emissions that avoid penalising businesses with prohibitive costs? asks Richard Burnett.
‘Nottingham City Council is proving that it’s possible. They’re set to meet their emissions targets by retrofitting buses with clean exhaust technology and bringing in stricter requirements for taxis and private hire vehicles.
‘Nottingham’s approach shows that a local authority can plan to reduce emissions by putting their faith in sustainable transport technology. Whereas, Leeds is adopting a punitive charging policy that will see hauliers go out of business.
• However Bath and North East Somerset Council plans to charge hauliers a whopping £100 per day to enter a Bath clean air zone.
The council plans to target pre Euro 6 trucks in a zone that takes in a section of the A36; a primary freight route for the region which effectively bypasses the city.