FTA part of HGV coalition asking Minister for fair treatment in Clean Air Zones

FTA part of HGV coalition asking Minister for fair treatment in Clean Air Zones

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has joined with three other trade associations to raise concerns about the way HGVs are treated in future Clean Air Zones (CAZ).

FTA, the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA), the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA) and the Road Haulage Association (RHA) have written a joint letter to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, calling for Government support in ensuring that the introduction of CAZs will not unfairly hit businesses who rely upon HGVs.

FTA’s Head of UK Policy, Christopher Snelling commented: “We support the need to improve the quality of air in our cities, but given CAZs only bring forward the beneficial change that is coming anyway by a couple of years, we don’t want this to be at the cost of small businesses’ ability to trade.”

A growing number of cities across England have announced that they are considering the introduction of some kind of HGV charging CAZ in a bid to reduce illegal levels of roadside NOx emissions.  London is further advanced, with its expanded Ultra Low Emission Zone scheduled to begin on 8 April next year.

“HGVs are an integral part of the economy at both national, regional and local level,” continues Snelling.  “Currently, there are no commercially or operationally viable alternatives to diesel in terms of HGV motive power.  Over 90% of everything the public eat, drink, wear and build with travels on an HGV at some point in the supply chain.”

While the associations fully support the environmental aims behind the introduction of CAZs, they are encouraging the Government to implement a system which works for businesses as well as having a real impact on pollution.  The current approach being proposed by many local authorities will create an additional tax on thousands of businesses and disrupt supply chains across the country, whilst failing to deliver the significant air quality improvements that are required.

The proposed HGV 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.  Unfortunately, it is SMEs and small businesses that will be worst affected under the current approach, as these operators are often those that are least equipped to absorb such a financial blow.

Even if an overwhelming number of HGV operators opted to rapidly upgrade their fleets to Euro VI over the next couple of years, there is unlikely to be sufficient HGV production capacity.  Meanwhile, there is currently no approved Euro VI retrofit option for trucks.

The joint letter asks the Minister to meet and 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, helping to maintain their used value and thus making 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

Efficient logistics is vital to keep Britain trading, directly having an impact on more than seven million people employed in the making, selling and moving of goods. With Brexit, new technology and other disruptive forces driving change in the way goods move across borders and through the supply chain, logistics has never been more important to UK plc. A champion and challenger, FTA speaks to Government with one voice on behalf of the whole sector, with members from the road, rail, sea and air industries, as well as the buyers of freight services such as retailers and manufacturers.