RHA: “The Government are failing to deliver on their own ULEZ policies”

Published: 26 June 2019

RHA: “The Government are failing to deliver on their own ULEZ policies”
The RHA were relieved to hear Leeds and Birmingham were among cities reconsidering their schemes for clean air zones that charge hauliers additional costs and do not offer a solution such as offering benefits to firms that could lead to hauliers benefiting further from updating their fleet with more environment friendly vehicles that meet the Euro VI standard.

Last week, speaking on the proposed schemes in Birmingham and Leeds, the RHA claimed they were targeted and truckers “disproportionately.”

The RHA has called for a “rethink” on the approach the government and councils are taking when trying to overcome increasing concerns in regards to air pollution. With schemes put on hold in Leeds and Birmingham, some cities are likely to follow suit, needing a re-evaluation on their approach when overcoming increasing concerns of pollution.

Earlier in the month, both Birmingham and Leeds city councils issued a statement, clarifying the situation with clean air zones, mentioning that the plans set to be introduced to the city centres were being delayed for the foreseeable future. They said the “significant” delays were due to instalment of updated camera technology to enforce the clean air zones being pushed back.
In addition to this, the councils had no new set dates to offer for the introduction of the clean air zones. This has left many hauliers uncertain of when charges to travel through the cities will begin. However, heavy goods vehicles and buses can expect to pay £50 a day for access to the cities if their vehicle does not meet the emissions standard once the schemes are introduced.

On behalf of the haulage industry, the RHA has been speaking with councils and government officials about the schemes, bringing into question the ethics behind the approach taken in the schemes that targets haulage firms with additional costs. They say the delay in place it a great chance to reflect on the approach that should be taken when convincing members of the haulage industry to join the effort in reducing pollution.

Richard Burnett, Chief Executive for the RHA, said the delayed schemes are continuing to “target” hauliers. Elaborating on the matter further, he had this to say: “Their delays in getting the technology ready postpones the arrival of enforceable zones in two key cities, but for operators facing the prospect of £50 per day charges it’s a delay, not a reprieve,”  

“It’s time for a rethink on improving air quality. Clean air zones will prove ineffective if they keep disproportionately targeting HGVs whilst ignoring other factors and vehicle types.”

As a suggestion, the RHA recommended that officials focus their efforts more towards congestion in cities and town centres, which needs serious improvement if councils wish to reduce emissions standards in their respective cities. The RHA claimed the government is “failing to deliver on its own policies” and that congestion-cutting approaches should be further researched “if they’re serious about reducing emissions”.

Both councils released statements in response to explain their future plans for air quality.

From Leeds City Council deputy leader, James Lewis: "We will continue to financially support owners of affected vehicles switching to less polluting models that will not be charged, as doing so is the best way to improve air quality prior to the charging zone’s introduction."

Birmingham City Council’s statement: "We will continue to work closely with the government and other cities to achieve compliance in the shortest possible time because our priority remains ensuring that the people of Birmingham have access to clean air, as is their basic human right."
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