Road Haulage Lobby Calls on Government to Look Again at Clean Air Zones

UK – The Road Haulage Association (RHA) is looking to the authorities for a change to the existing approach to Clean Air Zones to take account of the impact of Covid-19 and the continued improvement in the NOx emissions from road haulage. It points to the government’s own statistics which it says evidences haulage operators have slashed NOx emissions from trucks by at least 59% in only six years. Department for Transport (DfT) figures show a continual year-on-year decline since 2013 and the RHA predicts the industry will have reduced its NOx output by at least 80% by 2025 as the trucking lobby group published its annual NOx Emission Assessment from heavy goods vehicles this week.

In summary the Assessment calls for:

  • The implementation of all Clean Air Zones to be delayed until at least 2022
  • No charges to be levied on any lorry less than 12 years old when Clean Air Zones are implemented
  • Obligations to be placed on authorities to reduce road traffic congestion in identified hot spots through targeted road traffic management initiatives
  • Auto payment systems for operators to be introduced alongside the auto-fine systems proposed, where charges are introduced

Commercial vehicle fleets need regular replacement and the RHA says the industry’s GBP1.9bn investment in Euro VI vehicles is driving the huge reduction. However the tendency to suddenly ‘move the goalposts’ with ever changing standards is something which concerns the RHA, with Chris Ashley, the RHA’s head of policy on the environment, saying: “As the Government’s ‘green recovery’ agenda gathers pace we believe this positive experience can be applied to the decarbonisation agenda, but a repeat of DEFRA’s flawed Clean Air Zone policy must be avoided.

Hauliers are willing to invest in the technology needed for a clean environment but they must have confidence that the regulatory framework will not retrospectively undermine that investment. “Imposing high charges on technology deemed ‘obsolete’ without first checking there is a sufficient supply of the desired technology is a recipe for disaster. It leads to stranded assets, market distortion and waste.

With this week’s dreadful news that the economy is officially in recession the Government must take a more sustainable approach to goods moving around the country, one which recognises that environmental and social wellbeing depends on economic wellbeing.”

The RHA 2020 NOx Emission Assessment report can be downloaded HERE.

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