The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Road Freight and Logistics is recommending that the Government pauses the rollout of Clean Air Zones (CAZ) and reviews whether they are still required.
It has published a report into the introduction of CAZs, which are set to be introduced in several cities including Birmingham and Manchester and could see HGV drivers paying up to £100 per day to enter certain areas.
The report comes as several local authorities have opted to not introduce a charging zone or, in the case of Leeds City Council, have reversed their decision to introduce a charging zone.
The report’s central recommendation is for the Government to pause the rollout of the zones and to undertake a full review of the CAZ policy to determine whether it remains needed or whether alternative measures should be taken.
Sir Mike Penning MP, chair of the APPG said: “We all want to see cleaner air, that is why I back the Government’s efforts to introduce measures that support businesses to replace the most polluting vehicles and journeys. But it is essential that policies drive behaviour change rather than simply add an additional financial burden on businesses struggling to bounce back from COVID-19.
“The Government should understand that for many haulage businesses surviving the next year remains challenging and to ensure that this vital sector looks to rebuild that they should not be subject to the high costs of CAZ charges.
“We have concluded that while CAZs may be the right policy, that the approach is fundamentally flawed and needs reviewing to ensure that they remain fit for purpose before their introduction.
“The Government must also use this review to tackle the myriad of practical problems including the urgent need for a common set of standards and a single national payment portal that covers all road charges.
“As we look to build back better, we must ensure that Clean Air Zones are fit for purpose and meet the challenge that they were designed to tackle and not be a further penalty on struggling businesses."
The organisation launched an inquiry into the impact of clean air zones (CAZs) on the haulage and logistics sector back in February, calling for evidence from commercial fleet operators and councils.
A recent survey by Arval found that almost half of UK fleets expect to be affected by the introduction of Clean Air Zones (CAZ) and the London Ultra-Low Emissions zone (ULEZ).
Alongside the CAZ review, the APPG’s report also calls for:
- The introduction of ‘phased charging’ with charges only introduced following a grace period for very clean EURO V HGVs
- Government funding of a new centralised and ring-fenced fund to help businesses scrap the most polluting HGVs
- Local Authorities to provide a sunset clause to support local businesses who are unable to be compliant by the start date of a Clean Air Zone
- The introduction of a single national payment portal that covers all road charges
- Clear national direction and guidance to drive more common standards
- A cap, of £50 to be put on the daily charge for HGVs in line with Birmingham Council’s published plans
- Central and Local Government to launch full communications campaigns to inform businesses at least three months before charges are introduced.