New figures released today by the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA), show that 4 out of 10 small and medium sized businesses are unaware that Clean Air Zones (CAZs) will start to be implemented in towns and cities across the UK as early as next year.
Over a third are unaware that the CAZs are likely to involve charges for all but the most modern and least polluting diesel vehicles. In some cities, these charges will be as much as £100 per day for an HGV and £12.50 per day for other vehicles such as taxis and vans. Some local authorities have already announced plans to charge drivers of more polluting diesel cars a CAZ-entry fee.
Leeds, Derby, Nottingham, Southampton and Birmingham have already been mandated to bring in operational Clean Air Zones by 2020. An additional 23 local authorities have also been earmarked for CAZ implementation and a further 33 are considering what approach to take as part of their strategy to improve air quality.
London launches its 24/7 Ultra-Low Emission Zone in April 2019, replacing the current T-Charge operating in the Congestion Zone area. Mayor, Sadiq khan recently has announced plans to extend the ULEZ to an area 18-times larger than the original zone by 25 October 2021.
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.”
“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”.
In addition to calling for more publicity around CAZs and what they will mean, the BVRLA is also encouraging national and local policymakers to introduce a range of measures that will help business fleets make the transition to cleaner vehicles and encourage the use of more sustainable modes of transport. These include:
- Only use CAZ’s where necessary and minimise their size where possible.
- Ensure that local authorities adhere to common clean air zone standards in terms of hours of operation, signage, communications and any exemptions. As many businesses operate within multiple cities and regions on a daily basis it is vital that a standardised approach is developed to avoid confusion and improve the ease of compliance for drivers.
- Introduce ‘phased charging’ for trucks so that the most polluting vehicles pay a higher fee to enter the CAZ. As currently envisaged, all trucks other than those meeting the very latest Euro VI emissions standard will pay the same fee. Introducing a graduated charge would encourage operators that cannot afford to buy a brand-new fleet to buy newer, cleaner used vehicles.
- Committing to large scale trials of Mobility Credits. Under this scheme, drivers of older more polluting cars are offered credit if they scrap their polluting car. This credit can then be used across public transport and other modes such as car hire and car share all brought together under an app.