Tuesday, December 1, 2020

All Party Parliamentary Group on Road Haulage and Logistics Urges Government to Change Course

Report Sets Out Preferred Way to Reduce Emissions Whilst Protecting Businesses
Shipping News Feature

UK – The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Road Freight and Logistics has recommended that the Government pauses the rollout of Clean Air Zones (CAZ) whilst it undertakes a review to consider if they are still required given the efforts by truck and car makers to minimise emissions.

The APPG report comes at a time when several local authorities have opted to suspend, or cancel, proposed zones of the type introduced in cities like London, Leeds and Birmingham which can set HGV operators back up to around £100 a day. Sir Mike Penning MP, chair of the APPG said:

“We all want to see cleaner air and 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 clean air zone charges.We have concluded that whilst Clean Air Zones 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 APPG report delved deeply into the requirements necessary to clean up the industry’s record on emissions for the future and recommended phased charging and concluded there was a disconnect between government and the industry. It recommended central and local government should give notice to all affected businesses three months before introducing charges.

It further stated that the maximum charge for HGVs should be £50/day, introduce that single, national payment portal for charges, provide a ‘sunset’ clause for local businesses unable to comply, the introduction of ‘phased charging’ with charges only introduced following a grace period for EURO V HGVs, plus the government should provide a ring-fenced fund to help businesses scrap the most polluting HGVs.

Noting the reports of changed travel patterns during the Covid-19 pandemic, the APPG has urged the Government to ‘pause and reflect’ on how to tackle air quality and ensure that no charging zones are introduced until 1 January 2022. Chris Ashley, Road Haulage Association (RHA) head of policy on the environment commented:

“The RHA has consistently said that better ways exist to achieve the clean air we all want. The current CAZ approach fails to recognise the industry’s huge £1.9 billion investment in Euro VI vehicles that, despite CAZ, has slashed NOx emissions from trucks by at least 59% since 2013. It also fails to account for the market supply of the desired Euro VI vehicles which, during the second quarter of 2020, plummeted by 75% as Covid-19 hit the economy.

“To press ahead with CAZ as if nothing has happened is madness. It unfairly targets HGVs, and the Government must urgently review both its evidence-base and approach before proceeding.”

The RHA says its position is clear in that the way forward is for investment in vehicle emission standards, supported by regulation that recognises vehicle lifecycles of at least 12 years. With the news last week that the economy has suffered its worst slump in 300 years, it says the Government should take a more sustainable approach to goods moving around the country, one which recognises that environmental and social wellbeing depends on economic wellbeing.