The British Vehicle Rental & Leasing Association, Road Haulage Association, Freight Transport Association and National Franchised Dealers’ Association have joined forces to raise concerns about the way HGVs will be treated in future Clean Air Zones.

They have written a joint letter to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, calling for Government support in ensuring the introduction of CAZs will not unfairly hit businesses that rely on HGVs.  The letter asks for a meeting to discuss various solutions that could lessen the impact on businesses.  These include:

  • Providing improved access to road space, by allowing night time deliveries or limited access to bus lanes.
  • Providing 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.
  • Introducing a reduced charge for Euro V trucks, to maintain their used value and make it easier for operators to sell these vehicles and fund an upgrade to Euro VI HGVs.
  • Ensuring that CAZ standards and administration are consistent across the country and communicated properly.
  • Providing local authorities with more guidance and resources to identify local congestion and pollution hotspots and improve traffic management, thereby reducing the imperative to introduce a CAZ.

The proposed charge for all trucks other than the latest Euro VI models is typically £100 per day, which could equate to an additional 25% on the daily running cost of a non-compliant vehicle.  Even if an overwhelming number of operators opted to rapidly upgrade to Euro VI over the next couple of years, the trade bodies believe there is unlikely to be sufficient HGV production capacity.  Meanwhile, there is currently no approved Euro VI retrofit option for trucks.

RHA Chief Executive Richard Burnett said: “The current approach to charge 50% of trucks in the country to enter Clean Air Zones will do little to improve air quality where the improvement is needed.  It discriminates against smaller hauliers, those with specialised lorries, and businesses that have no alternative but to enter the zones with Euro V and older vehicles.  We want to see a smarter approach – one that focuses only on the oldest vehicles and only in those places where there are recognised problems.”

The FTA’s Head of UK Policy, Christopher Snelling, added: “Given that CAZs only bring forward by a couple of years the beneficial change that is coming anyway, we don’t want this to be at the cost of small businesses’ ability to trade.”

And Sue Robinson, Director of the NFDA’s Commercial Vehicle division, said: “It is vital that HGV operators should be urged to use graduated fees when entering CAZs.  Exemptions should not just apply to Euro VI engine trucks.  Graduating these fees to cleaner engines will encourage operators of the dirtiest diesels to move to cleaner used trucks such as Euro V HGVs.”