The BVRLA, an industry association representing vehicle hire companies in the UK, has strongly criticised Leeds City Council for introducing a plan to charge £50 per day to heavy-goods vehicles entering the Clean Air Zone scheduled for implementation in January 2020.
The BVRLA says it would have been a £100 charge if it had not lobbied for a reduction, but even the £50 charge, for around half the city, is too much, says the industry body.
Proposals revealed this week by Leeds City Council show that the council plans to charge HGVs that do not meet EU6 emissions standards a daily charge of £50 for driving within the Clean Air Charging Zone.
However, one of the BVRLA’s main points is that there aren’t that many clean-tech choices when it comes to HGVs.
Gerry Keaney, chief executive of the BVRLA, said: “Our members will be on hand to rent or lease compliant HGVs to many local fleets that are struggling to find compliant vehicles, but it is doubtful whether there will be enough Euro VI truck capacity to meet every need.
“The decision to charge hauliers is short sighted and very frustrating. It is an extra burden on operators who will have to pass costs on to the consumer.
“Unlike cars and vans, HGV operators have no option to go electric. Operators will face huge costs in replacing non-compliant vehicles with the latest trucks that meet Euro VI emission standards – there are no retrofit solutions available at present.
“We are particularly concerned about smaller businesses, many of whom operate on extremely tight margins and will not be able to upgrade their fleet in time.
“According to Traffic Commissioner data, 54,800 SMEs were involved in road haulage last year and 52 per cent of lorries operate in fleets of less than 20. These are exactly the type of businesses we need to support with incentives, not penalise with unavoidable charges.”
Earlier this year the BVRLA joined with the Road Haulage Association, Freight Transport Association, and National Franchised Dealers Association, in meeting Transport Minister Jesse Norman and Environment Minister Therese Coffey to share a six-point plan for Clean Air Zones.
The associations called for consistent Clean Air Zone operating standards, smarter use of road space, and a phased approach to support the transition to cleaner vehicles that “doesn’t put operators out of business”.