The government says the zones designated for Birmingham, Leeds, Nottingham, Derby and Southampton by 2020 are meant to reduce pollution in city centers and encourage the replacement of old, polluting vehicles with modern, cleaner vehicles.
Trucking group warns of economic fallout from proposed clean-air zones.
The U.K.’s Freight Transport Assn. is calling for a national scrappage scheme to help businesses meet operating costs under the government’s proposed Clean Air Zones.
The zones are to be introduced in Birmingham, Leeds, Nottingham, Derby and Southampton by 2020.
The zones will not affect private car owners, but the most-polluting vehicles, such as older buses, taxis, coaches and trucks, will be discouraged from entering the zones through increased usage fees. Newer vehicles that meet the latest emissions standards will not have to pay.
A government statement says the zones are being aimed at areas of each city where the air-quality problem is most serious. The zones are meant to reduce pollution in city centers and encourage the replacement of old, polluting vehicles with modern, cleaner vehicles.
Similar zones in Germany and Denmark have been shown to improve air quality, the government says. With the zones not being introduced until 2020, businesses will have time to prepare for the change to minimize the impact, officials say.
Local authorities will be able to set charges only at levels designed to reduce pollution, not to raise additional revenue beyond recovering the costs of the program. But the freight-transport group believes this is not enough.
It says a national scrappage scheme would support efforts to improve air quality while preventing an unsustainable burden on small businesses who fail to meet clean-air-zone standards, especially small and medium-sized operators and those using vans or specialized heavy-goods vehicles.
The trucking lobby suggests the additional cost of compliance could be more than 150% of annual turnover for some small and medium-sized businesses.
“The government should be pursuing measures that will provide the most health benefit for the least economic disruption,” Christopher Snelling, head of national and regional policy for the FTA, says in a statement. “The proposed (clean-air zones) pose a serious risk to the viability of many small businesses based in these zones, and a real risk to jobs and local prosperity.”