How Clean Air Zones will affect operators as well as the environment


More than ever before, we’re aware of the environmental impact of fossil fuels and committed to switching to more renewable fuel sources. There are various government targets now in place to reduce our dependency on petrol and diesel, as well as to reduce road traffic pollution in several major cities.

While these targets and efforts aim to help the environment, they pose a bit of a logistical problem for HGV operators. Despite forming the backbone of our economy by transporting over 90% of consumer goods, HGVs are limited to relying on diesel power with no realistic alternatives presently available.

Clean Air Zones

Announced in 2015, Clean Air Zones will be introduced to five cities before 2020, giving local authorities the power to issue additional charges to heavy polluters travelling through Birmingham, Derby, Leeds, Nottingham and Southampton. On top of this, London also has its own Ultra Low Emission Zone coming into force next year, while other cities are being earmarked for future projects.

Around one-fifth of all road transport nitrogen oxide emissions come from HGVs, even though they account for just 5% of the total mileage of all vehicles. Newer HGVs that meet Euro VI standards may benefit from lower taxation, but there’s still concern that Clean Air Zone charges could massively disrupt businesses with older vehicles.

Unfair charges

Chief Executive of the Road Haulage Association, Richard Burnett, said that these extra charges for commercial operators would actually do very little to improve air quality, but could have a damaging effect on businesses. He also stated that Clean Air Zones “discriminate against those businesses that have no alternative but to enter the zones with Euro V and older vehicles.”

The RHA is one of a group of trade bodies that has appealed to the government for a rethink on how HGV charges are approached. While the various associations recognise and support the environmental ambitions, they believe that the system also needs to be economical for businesses to continue operating effectively and efficiently.

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