The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Road Freight and Logistics has published a report recommending to pause a plan for rollout of nationwide Clean Air Zones (CAZ). The report questions the timing of CAZ policy as Covid-19 has inspired a change of travel patterns, emissions levels and put fleet operators under increasing financial pressure.
CAZs could see drivers of non-compliant HGVs pay up to £100 per day to enter cities such as Birmingham and Manchester. To lessen this impact, key recommendations of the report include the introduction of phased charging following a grace period, and the provision of a sunset clause to support local businesses who are unable to comply.
Chair of the APPG, Sir Mike Penning MP, 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 these measures must be introduced at the right time and must be implemented in a way that drives meaningful behaviour change. Over the course of the last few months, we have been gathering evidence from a wide range of organisations about the planned introduction of CAZs to identify how the policy can be improved before its introduction.”
The report urges government to pause and reflect on how the issue of air quality is tackled, and “to ensure that no charging zones are introduced until January 1st, 2022.” It claims that Government should use this extension to “review the evidence base” outlined in the report.
Sir Mike Penning continued, “As the Government looks to rebuild our economy post Covid-19, it is essential that this includes ensuring that those sectors most affected can rebuild and restart as quickly as possible. This must include reviewing existing and planned policy to see if it will be an impediment to ‘bouncing back’. The road freight and logistics sector are vital to a thriving and growing economy.”