New research shows that more than a quarter of businesses that use vans are not aware of plans for Clean Air Zones (CAZ) - less than two years before they could be charged to enter major cities.
London has already introduced a ‘toxicity charge’ on top of the congestion charge to drive a pre-Euro 4 vehicle into the city. It will be replaced by the world’s first ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) in April 2019, which will target cars, vans and trucks that don’t meet the latest emission standards.
Non-compliant cars and vans will be charged £12.50 per day on top of the daily £11.50 congestion charge.
Meanwhile, several other local authorities are considering introducing a CAZ where charges could be levied against the most polluting vehicles entering the zone.
However, a new survey of 677 businesses that use vans, carried out by independent agency, IFF Research, shows almost a third (29%) of businesses using vans do not know about the CAZ initiative and of those who were aware, more than half (55%) said they expect the move will affect their businesses.
Regionally, in potential CAZ areas, 20% of firms using vans in Birmingham, 28% using vans in Leeds, 27% using vans in Derby and 23% using vans in Southampton did not know about plans for the zones.
Of those who were aware, 60% in Birmingham, 54% in Derby, 50% in Leeds, and 52% in Southampton said the move would affect their business
In key sectors: 31% of construction firms, 22% of manufacturers, and 32% of retail/distribution firms said they did not know about the CAZ initiative.
Of those who were aware of CAZ, 59% of construction firms, 53% of manufacturers and 44% of retail/distribution firms said they would be affected.
The BVRLA and the Road Haulage Association have said that CAZ will encourage more vans onto the roads, as HGV drivers ‘downsize’ in an attempt to avoid paying charges.
The survey was commissioned by Northgate Vehicle Hire. Northgate runs around 29,000 vans which are compliant with Euro VI – the highest new standard for vehicle emissions set by the European Commission. These vans would not be charged to enter new CAZ zones, or existing emissions zones, such as LEZ.
Tim Bailey (pictured), fleet director of Northgate Vehicle Hire, said: “Vans are critical to the success of UK PLC, so it is worrying that users from builders to home delivery companies are not aware of these changes, less than two years before CAZs are due to start.
“Van drivers are facing a perfect storm. The SMMT says that 99% still run on diesel, which is being hit by increasing fuel prices and taxes. Yet for many businesses, new technologies such as electric vehicles just are not ready to meet their needs – deemed as unaffordable, or incapable of covering sufficient distances between charges.”
He continued: “We are already seeing an impact as drivers swap van ownership for rental in order to acquire compliant vehicles quickly, and avoid CAZ charges altogether.
“While we support efforts to reduce emissions, we believe that Government needs to find a balance between tackling emissions while supporting Vankind. That means not only charging people for driving older vans, but also incentivising people to acquire alternatives, and investing in public transport.”