City of London zero emission plan not feasible

London, UK: The initial proposals for the City of London Transport Strategy have been dismissed by the Freight Transport Association as not feasible. The association raises concerns about the City’s desire to introduce a Zero Emission Zone before suitable vehicles are commercially viable; it also criticises the government’s poorly coordinated nationwide approach to air quality and traffic reduction schemes.

Headline initiatives for the strategy, which will set out a 25-year framework for the management of the Square Mile’s streets, include: the introduction of a Zero Emission Zone in the Square Mile by 2022; a speed limit of 15mph; road closures to prioritise pedestrians at peak times; time restrictions on deliveries; and the overall reduction of motor traffic by 25% by 2030 and 50% by 2044.

Denise Beedell, Policy Manager for Vans and Urban Transport at FTA, the only business group representing all of logistics, commented: “These proposals showcase the City of London’s long-term and serious commitment to improving air quality and road safety, both of which are of the utmost importance to FTA and its members.  While we applaud many aspects of the proposals – such as priority parking access for commercial vehicles – there are several other areas that need reconsidering.

“The flagship initiative of the scheme is the introduction of a Zero Emission Zone covering the east of the City and the Barbican area by 2022.  This is a premature move – zero emission vehicles are currently not commercially viable and greater investment is needed into their development.  Firstly, initial purchasing costs of electric vehicles must be reduced for it to become an affordable and realistic option for businesses of all sizes.  Secondly, there is insufficient charging infrastructure in place.  While FTA notes the proposals include a potential charging hub, a nationwide infrastructure strategy is needed for its long-term feasibility.

“This is just another example of the government’s fragmented and patchwork approach to air quality and road traffic reduction schemes.  London needs a planned and coordinated approach, not the patchwork of different schemes we are getting from Hackney Council – its City Fringe Ultra Low Emission Vehicle Streets scheme came into force last month – and now the City of London.  This extends nationwide, with Clean Air Zones of different sizes, start dates and charges being introduced across several UK cities.  This approach is confusing and unhelpful for logistics businesses and makes it challenging for them to put appropriate plans in place.

The final draft of the Transport Strategy will be submitted to the Planning and Transportation Committee for approval on 30 October 2018, along with the draft Local Implementation Plan.  Subject to approval, consultation on both documents will take place between November 2018 and January 2019.  The final Strategy will be submitted in March 2019.

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