Defra correct to identify burden on small businesses of Clean Air Zones – but fails to offer support.

FTA has once again raised concerns over planned restrictions reiterated in the Defra Clean Air Zones document published today.

Responding to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) consultation on Clean Air Zones (CAZs), the Freight Transport Association has stated that the effect on small businesses particularly of access restrictions in UK cities for older vehicles, has not been resolved.

Christopher Snelling, FTA Head of national & Regional Policy said: “FTA believes that introducing this too soon, and without support, would not only impose substantial costs on the whole logistics industry, but would significantly disadvantage small businesses that use HGVs and, most especially, vans.”

The Defra publication reiterates the intention to restrict access for older vehicles to five English cities due to local pollution concerns. Nottingham, Derby and Southampton would have restrictions on HGVs, buses, and taxis, Leeds and Birmingham would see restrictions on those vehicles plus vans.

The Impact Assessment published by Defra, alongside the consultation paper, states: “for operators of small HGV fleets, and single owner-operators, transport measures requiring them to upgrade their vehicle could pose a significant financial impact and could lead to an increase in retail prices of the goods they carry.”

On vans the document notes that under some of the scenarios proposed: “smaller businesses may struggle to absorb such costs and may exit the market.”

Mr Snelling added: “We all understand the need to continue to reduce the impact on human health of emissions, but as the proposals stand there is a real chance many small businesses will be disproportionately affected and locked out of their current work.

“The key issue for us is the timescale for implementation. If this is done in 2019 there would not yet be a sufficient market in compliant second hand vans for small businesses to be able to compete, and some small HGV operators would not have fully compliant fleets.  We are looking for more flexibility for those businesses that will have the most trouble complying, and support for them to reach these standards.  The freight industry needs more from the Government on these issues.”

 

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