Increasing pressure on small businesses as London Mayor’s ULEZ Deadline approaches

London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) would damage small businesses while delivering limited air quality improvements, according to the Freight Transport Association (FTA), the only business representing all of logistics. With just three months until the scheme’s introduction in the Congestion Charging Zone, FTA is renewing its calls for Sadiq Khan to recognise that the ULEZ would not be a transformative measure but would only bring forward an air quality gain at a cost to the livelihoods of many small businesses in London. “FTA recognises and supports the legal obligation to improve air quality and supports the principle of a low emission zone,” says Natalie Chapman, Head of Urban Policy at FTA, “but we question the effectiveness of the scheme in improving air quality as it is not a new standard.

Instead, it is just bringing forward the fleet replacement cycle at huge cost to many small businesses and operators of specialist vehicles. Operators and vehicle manufacturers have already led the way with investment in cleaner technologies through developments in engine standards. This has helped in reducing levels of key pollutants more than 20-fold over recent years.

“When businesses buy new vehicles, it is not the purchase price they need to consider, but how long they plan to run them for and what they will sell them for when they are finished. The ULEZ means that for many businesses, the timeframe in which they had planned to sweat their assets has reduced and the residual values of Euro 5 vehicles have plummeted. So not only have they got to stump up for new vehicles sooner than they had planned, they have the double whammy that they have also lost out financially on the vehicles they are replacing.

In December, London’s Mayor announced a measure to help micro-businesses in London (those with fewer than 10 staff) prepare for the ULEZ. “With little more than two and a half years’ worth of compliant vans in the fleet, there is no established second-hand market for Euro 6 vans, so FTA is glad to see support for the smallest businesses through proposals for a van scrappage scheme,” continues Ms Chapman. “These are businesses which would be hardest hit by any sudden changes in operating compliance. FTA will continue to argue for limited sunset clauses for operators based inside the expanded Zone which may need more time to meet the requirements, while not endangering positive overall progress on air quality.” With less than three months to go until the ULEZ starts in Central London, FTA urges vehicle operators who are unsure of their compliance status to use TfL’s online compliance checker.

Efficient logistics is vital to keep Britain trading, directly having an impact on more than seven million people employed in the making, selling and moving of goods.

With Brexit, new technology and other disruptive forces driving change in the way goods move across borders and through the supply chain, logistics has never been more important to UK plc.

A champion and challenger, FTA speaks to Government with one voice on behalf of the whole sector, with members from the road, rail, sea and air industries, as well as the buyers of freight services such as retailers and manufacturers.

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