Time for air quality rethink warns RHA

Peterborough, UK: The Road Haulage Association says that the government needs to rethink its approach to improving air quality following “significant” postponements to the Leeds and Birmingham clean air zones, which were due to launch in January 2020.

In a joint statement, the Leeds and Birmingham local authorities blame government delays in delivering key digital infrastructure for the postponements. No new dates have been announced.

RHA chief executive Richard Burnett says the government is failing to deliver on its own policies and needs to encourage local authorities to look at congestion-easing measures if they are serious about reducing emissions.

“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,” says Burnett.

“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.”

The Freight Transport Association said the delay by Leeds and Birmingham was “the right thing to do”. Christopher Snelling, head of UK policy, FTA said: ”FTA has also been talking to the government about these issues and agrees that the cities seem insufficiently prepared to have the necessary systems in place.

“You cannot start a regulation without a reliable way to comply with it in place and tested – there is simply too much chance that things launched at the very last minute will go wrong, leading to chaos for HGV and van operators serving these two major cities”

“Whether you support CAZs or not, we can all agree that regulations must have the systems in place to make them work. Leeds and Birmingham have done the right thing, indeed they are taking the only course of action available to them”

“Government needs to develop these systems asap and demonstrate they are reliable and accurate – only then should Councils definitively commit to start dates for any Clean Air Zones,” Snelling said.

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