Uncertainty generated by the government’s air quality plans could “cripple local businesses”, the Freight Transport Association (FTA) has warned.
Responding the announcement of a ban on diesel and petrol cars and the introduction of clean air zones, the FTA said businesses would need additional support to ensure fleets were compliant.
Elizabeth de Jong, FTA director of UK policy, said: “Uncertainty will hurt industry. FTA understands we won’t know where lorries and vans will be restricted until next year, giving only a year for businesses to plan their fleets, leaving many with potentially large bills on top of rising operating costs in a difficult trading environment.”
In addition to London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone, five other cities – Birmingham, Derby, Leeds, Nottingham and Southampton – will have to introduce Clean Air Zones (CAZs) by 2019, the government has said.
The FTA said fleet businesses based within zone boundaries, those with specialist fleets and van operators would need additional support. “If vans are affected by CAZs there will be little more than two and a half years’ worth of compliant vehicles in the fleet and no established second hand market,” said the FTA. “Many businesses will now be locked into lease agreements which extend beyond the 2019 deadline and will be costly to get out of.”
De Jong said: “For those whose businesses operate inside a zone, a period of grace giving them extra time to comply would provide much-needed breathing space. Our worst fear is that some may be forced out of business altogether if the plans are not properly thought through.”
• The government will be updating its procurement policy as part of its clean air plans
to “ensure its operations and purchasing power support reductions in NO2 and other pollutants”. Government Buying Standards will be updated later this year to include NO2, along with CO2, reductions “with the intention of encouraging the purchasing and leasing of the cleanest vehicles”.