The BVRLA has criticised Leeds City Council’s "short sighted" plans to introduce a new Clean Air Zone (CAZ) from January 2020 which will charge thousands of HGVs £50 per day to enter.
Under the Leeds proposals, more than half of the city will be covered by a CAZ, which will charge pre-Euro VI HGVs.
The BVRLA joined with the council and the Energy Savings Trust earlier this year in hosting a round table to discuss air quality issues and proposals for a Leeds CAZ.
At this meeting, the BVRLA and its members outlined a range of alternatives to a charging CAZ and ways of reducing the impact of a zone if introduced.
Gerry Keaney, chief executive of the BVRLA, said: “The decision to charge hauliers is short sighted and very frustrating. It is an extra burden on operators who will have to pass costs on to the consumer.
“Unlike cars and vans, HGV operators have no option to go electric. Operators will face huge costs in replacing non-compliant vehicles with the latest trucks that meet Euro VI emission standards – there are no retrofit solutions available at present.
“We are particularly concerned about smaller businesses, many of whom operate on extremely tight margins and will not be able to upgrade their fleet in time.
"According to Traffic Commissioner data, 54,800 SMEs were involved in road haulage last year and 52% of lorries operate in fleets of less than 20.
"These are exactly the type of businesses we need to support with incentives, not penalise with unavoidable charges.”
Throughout its engagement with Leeds and other cities, the BVRLA has made it clear that CAZs can be an important tool in tackling air quality issues in heavily polluted areas, but any introduction must be balanced against the potential impact they might have on the wider economy and people’s quality of life.
Leeds has given some consideration to the arguments and suggestions made by the BVRLA. It has halved the government’s recommended £100 fee for non-compliant HGVs and will offer an initial ‘sunset clause’ that provides a CAZ charge exemption for hauliers that can prove that they have got a Euro VI truck on order.
Earlier this year the BVRLA joined with the Road Haulage Association, Freight Transport Association and National Franchised Dealers Association in meeting transport minister Jesse Norman and environment minister Therese Coffey to share a six-point plan for Clean Air Zones.
The plan – entitled The Way Forward - set out recommendations the four trade bodies believe can help improve air quality while protecting haulage from punitive charges and bureaucracy.
It calls for consistent CAZ operating standards, smarter use of road space, and a phased approach supporting the transition to cleaner vehicles that doesn't put operators out of business.