FTA warns that more clean air zones threaten SMEs

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Plans for clean air zones in Leeds and Birmingham demonstrate steps being taken to manage the impacts on business in the cities, but schemes will still produce substantial costs for small businesses, says the FTA.

The FTA cautions that “CAZs only bring a temporary air quality benefit, bringing forward what was coming anyway.  We need Councils to implement these zones with as much sensitivity to local businesses as possible,” said head of UK policy Christopher Snelling.

Leeds has adjusted its clean air zone boundary, restricting where possible to achieve the same air quality effects while reducing the number of HGVs located within the Zone from 13,000 to an estimated 4,500.

Entering the zone will cost £50 per day for HGVs and should be enough to deter almost all operators but makes it feasible for occasional essential trips by an older vehicle. The zone remains a category B which means van users will not be affected.

Likewise, Birmingham has set out plans for a zone which covers the area inside its middle ring road. This is smaller than the city-wide zone that companies responsible for deliveries to businesses in the city centre had feared.

All vehicles will be included in the proposal, affecting so small businesses with vans as and lorries. Vans as recent as three years old will be charged under the proposals.

“In both Leeds and Birmingham there will still be substantial impacts on small businesses, both from the costs of undertaking their daily work and shortening the lifespan of existing vehicles, that threaten their business models. CAZs need to be a last resort and as small as possible where they are used,” said Snelling.

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