Response to the Government’s Road to Zero strategy

Tuesday, July 10, 2018 - 09:28
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Yesterday, 9th July, saw the release of the UK Government’s strategy to achieve a zero vehicle emissions target by 2030. We reported on this yesterday in FleetPoint, and included a couple of responses to the document in that article. Since then, there have been a number of other organisations that have made public their response to strategy document, and I feel it is worth publishing some of those on FleetPoint.

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Claire Haigh, Chief Executive, said:

“It’s disheartening to see that having promised to take bold action to reduce emissions and solve the UK’s air pollution crisis, the Government has failed to take the necessary tough decisions. It has still done nothing to reduce the sheer number of vehicles on the road.

“Cars are the number one cause of roadside air pollution, which has reached illegal levels and is causing up to 50,000 early deaths per year.  We cannot solve this crisis without reducing car use.  A double decker bus can take 75 cars off the road, and a modern diesel bus emits 10 times fewer NOx emissions per passenger than a modern diesel car.

“We urgently need measures to encourage a switch from car to public transport. For a start, the Government should end the freeze in fuel duty which has led to a 4% increase in traffic since 2011. The Treasury’s own figures show that the ongoing fuel duty freeze cost the exchequer an estimated £46 billion between 2011 and 2019 – more than twice the amount spent on NHS doctors and nurses each year.”


Commenting on the report, BVRLA Chief Executive Gerry Keaney said:

“We welcome the Road to Zero strategy and will continue to work with government to demonstrate the importance of our sector on this journey to zero-emission. BVRLA members have a critical role to play in delivering the Government’s air quality ambitions due to the number of vehicles they purchase each year and the frequency of their replacement cycles.

“The increased grant available through the Workplace Charging Scheme will encourage more companies to install charge points, however, we are still concerned about the cost and complications that fleet operators wanting to install EV infrastructure face when trying to arrange planning permission or deal with local distribution network operators.

“It is critical that the right incentives are in place to support this strategy. Fleets invest billions of pounds on new cars, vans and trucks each year and a significant portion of this purchasing power stands ready to bring thousands more plug-in electric vehicles on to the UK’s roads. This can only happen if they are given the right supporting environment to deliver a managed transition away from petrol and diesel engines.

“As the recent Joint Select Committee on Air Quality recommended, there needs to be a greater alignment between the tax regime and efforts to improve air quality. The tax system is crucial to incentivising the right vehicle choice. We would urge the government to provide clarity at the upcoming Budget as to how this can be achieved. As a start we are calling on the Chancellor to accelerate the introduction of the 2% Company Car Tax band for zero-emission vehicles. This tax band is currently scheduled to increase over the next two years to a high of 16% in 2019/20, before dropping to 2% the year after.

“We know from our latest sustainability study that those taking cash allowances emit an average of 145g/km of CO2 compared to lease car drivers who emit an average of 114g/km CO2. Company cars are cleaner, and government can have a quick win by creating a tax system that incentivises the uptake of company cars, rather than driving people towards cash allowances.”

“Looking further forward, we are desperately in need of a zero-emission taxation roadmap that will give fleet operators the confidence to make long-term investments.”


LeasePlan UK’s Managing Director, Matt Dyer said:

“Whilst this strategy is long overdue, we find it promising to see the Government’s approach targeting not only infrastructure, but supporting the transition of fleets and vans to fully electric. We also welcome the support for the continued development of cleaner internal combustion engines and consultations on a new VED approach for vans, as these are crucial elements to the survival of business fleets.

“As a founding member of the EV100, LeasePlan is committed to a low-emission future, and we look forward to working together with the Government to encourage the uptake of electric vehicles and fully realise a low carbon future. In addition, we are continuing to drive our ambition of all our employees driving electric cars by 2021, as well as encouraging our customers to make the switch to electric.

“However, we believe that 2025 is too far away to review the success of this strategy and the adoption of ultra-low emission vehicles. Given how quickly the nature of mobility is changing, more regular and short-term reviews are necessary to ensure the strategy is aligned to how consumers and business are consuming transport services. This strategy is a good starting point, but as a nation we need to be more ambitious in our plans to reduce carbon emissions and prepare for the future of transport.”


LowCVP’s Managing Director, Andy Eastlake, says:

“There’s every reason to believe that the ‘Road to Zero’ objectives can not only be achieved, but significantly surpassed.

“‘Effectively zero emissions’ by 2040 is 22 years away so we welcome the push for most of the fleet to be ULEVs by 2030; the average driver will have several vehicles over this period. It’s important, though, to develop a range of products suited to different drivers’ needs. The new vehicles being sold today will be a distant memory in 2040.”

“This revolution in mobility and in the technologies we use to get us around can only be achieved if people – government, businesses and householders – work together and pull in the same direction. The strategy helps by focusing us all on where we need to get to and, importantly, also includes some interim steps.”

Key areas of the Road-to-Zero strategy in which the LowCVP already is, or will be, closely involved include:

  • The new EV Energy Task Force (EVET) which will put engaging the electric vehicle user at the heart of preparing the electricity system for the mass take up of electric vehicles, ensuring that costs and emissions are as low as possible, and the opportunities for vehicles to provide grid services are maximised.
  • The new Road Transport Emissions Advice Group (RTEAG); bringing government, industry and consumer groups together to help ensure clear and consistent consumer messaging and advice on fuel and technology choices including in relation to the ULEV definition, the new WLTP tests and vehicle/fuel labelling.
  • The retrofit agenda; ensuring that existing buses, coaches, HGVs, vans and black cabs are as low emission as possible.
  • Taxis: the LowCVP is in the process of publishing an Ultra-low Emission Taxi Guide.
  • Buses: to build on already significant progress with key impacts on air pollution as well as decarbonisation.
  • The fuels agenda, including E10, renewable diesel and biomethane; ensuring that fuels maximise their contribution to lower emissions while guarding against undesirable and indirect consequences.
  • Helping to set a clear pathway to reducing emissions from the key freight sector, now responsible for over 30% of the CO2 emissions from road transport. LowCVP will build on progress already made to verify and accredit the performance of future technologies.



Andy Eastlake adds:

“Success will only be achieved by considering the whole picture; and accepting that real change only comes from taking a holistic approach that respects how everyone involved will be affected; not just the policy makers or transport industry, but the UK’s millions of businesses, households and individuals.”

The LowCVP’s great strength lies in being able to help bring this all together.”


RHA chief executive Richard Burnett said:

“Of course we want clean air and we welcome this boost to encourage greener motoring.

“But for the operators of the UKs 493,600 HGVs, the idea of switching to electric vehicles remains a very long way off.

“The research, development and production of electric trucks is still prohibitive. Until they become financially accessible, hauliers (particularly those operating Euro VI engine vehicles) will continue to drive the cleanest trucks on UK roads

“The haulage sector is under massive cost pressure due to misguided Government clean air policy. It is unacceptable to ask the industry to invest in carbon-saving measures when, in 18 months’ time, over 60% of today’s lorry fleet will be subject to Clean Air Zone charges. Government needs to wake up and understand that lorries have an average working life of 12 years and that handing responsibility over to local authorities, each with their own charging agendas, undermines the ability of the sector to invest.

This industry is responsible for the movement of 98% goods consumed in the UK, yet once again, it is being penalised for doing a good job.

Improving air quality is not the sole responsibility of road users. The reality is that the major polluters – shipping, rail networks, power stations and manufacturing plants are also guilty. But where is the evidence that they are being taken to task?

“It’s all very well to come up with plans for clean air Utopia, but everyone needs to work together to make it happen.“

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