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Parliamentary Group Calls for Delay in Regional Clean Air Zones

The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Road Freight and Logistics have requested a review of Clean Air Zones (CAZ) in regional cities. This action comes despite evidence in Transport for London’s recent ULEZ report highlighting the benefits to air quality. The MP’s in question are concerned regarding the financial burden the initiatives will place on many struggling firms.

Before the full effects of the Covid-19 pandemic became apparent, the APPG commissioned a study in February into the potential impact on the haulage and logistics sector of CAZs. Evidence has been gathered from commercial fleet operators and other related parties. Findings include estimates that up to half of UK fleets will be impacted by CAZs in the coming years.

Birmingham and Manchester are both set to introduce CAZs with HGV drivers required to pay fees to enter restricted areas. The APPG’s report calls for the administrations of these cities to follow Leeds City Council’s example by scrapping the implementation of such an area or at least pausing to consider alternatives.

Sir Mike Penning MP, chair of the APPG explained that logic behind the report’s findings, and asserts that placing any, “Additional financial burden on businesses struggling to bounce back from COVID-19” should be avoided.” The group want Government to acknowledge that many haulage businesses will face challenges just to survive in 2021. Therefore, whilst “this vital sector looks to rebuild” “they should not be subject to the high costs of CAZ charges.”

The MP’s are not opposed to CAZs but fear the timing is inappropriate and elements of the councils approaches are flawed. They are calling for a, “Common set of standards and a single national payment portal that covers all road charges.” This will ensure we “build back better” and that the workings of each of the clean air zones are fit for purpose.

The report outlines a number of measures that the group of MP’s believe represent a more practical approach. They include: a grace period for very clean EURO V HGVs, funding from Westminster to contribute to firms scrapping worst polluting HGVs and a price cap on the daily charge for HGVs of £50.

HGVs that do not meet London’s ULEZ emissions standards must pay a daily charge of £100 with the cost set at £12.50 for vans. Additionally the daily congestion zone charge in London currently stands at: £100 for vans with a gross vehicle weight up to 3.5 tonnes and £200 for HGVs over 3.5 tonnes.

Meanwhile the Government has announced that its plan for the decarbonisation of transport will be delayed until spring 2021. It was out before the end of 2020. It will be interesting to see whether the All Party Parliamentary Group on Road Freight and Logistics suggestions are included and whether other relevant parties taken them on-board. We shall try to keep you up to date with any further developments on this front.

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