MPs call for a review of Clean Air Zones


The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Road Freight and Logistics is recommending that the Government pauses the rollout of Clean Air Zones (CAZ).

In light of reports of improved air quality during the pandemic and the decision taken by four of the original five clean air zones to not introduce charging zones, the APPG is calling for the Government to suspend rollout and carry out a full review of CAZ policy. 

CAZs are set to be introduced in several cities, including Birmingham and Bath, and could see HGV drivers paying up to £100 per day to enter certain areas. 

Leeds City Cllr James Lewis said: ‘We have achieved the aims of the Clean Air Zone without having to charge a single vehicle. If Leeds were to introduce a CAZ today, only a fraction of vehicles would be affected because the vast majority of businesses are now driving cleaner vehicles than they were just a few years ago.”
According to the Council, air pollution in Leeds on key routes is significantly below legal limits and is not likely to exceed them again – even if traffic were to return to ‘normal levels' after the impacts of the Covid pandemic.
Sir Mike Penning MP, chair of the APPG 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 it is essential that policies drive behaviour change rather than simply add an additional financial burden on businesses struggling to bounce back from COVID-19.
“The Government should understand that for many haulage businesses surviving the next year remains challenging and to ensure that this vital sector looks to rebuild that they should not be subject to the high costs of clean air zone charges.
“The Government must also use this review to tackle the myriad of practical problems including the urgent need for a common set of standards and a single national payment portal that covers all road charges.
“As we look to build back better, we must ensure that Clean Air Zones are fit for purpose and meet the challenge that they were designed to tackle and not be a further penalty on struggling businesses." 

The APPG’s report also calls for:
The introduction of ‘phased charging’ with charges only introduced following a grace period for very clean EURO V HGVs. Government funding of a new centralised and ring-fenced fund to help businesses scrap the most polluting HGVs. Local Authorities to provide a sunset clause to support local businesses who are unable to be compliant by the start date of a Clean Air Zone. The introduction of a single national payment portal that covers all road charges. Clear national direction and guidance to drive more common standards. A cap, of £50 to be put on the daily charge for HGVs in line with Birmingham Council’s published plans. Central and Local Government to launch full communications campaigns to inform businesses at least three months before charges are introduced.