Plans by the Mayor of London to introduce an Ultra Low Emission Zone in central London from 2019 will heavily impact on SMEs, according to the Freight Transport Association (FTA).
Under the proposals – which are now open for consultation until 25 June – the central London ULEZ, which would cover the same area as the existing congestion charging zone, would go live from April 2019 – 17 months ahead of original plans – and would affect diesel vehicles that do not meet Euro 6 standards and petrol vehicles that don’t meet Euro 4 standards.
“We need to continue the improvement in London’s air quality which is happening anyway, but this regulation taking effect in 2019 will severely disadvantage small businesses working in the capital’s centre,” said Natalie Chapman, FTA’s head of policy for London and the South East.
“The impact will be especially hard for van users, as by 2019 there will only be two and a half years’ worth of compliant vehicles in the fleet – and no second hand compliant vehicles available for purchase at all.”
While Chapman welcomed changes that now propose the Zone will extend in 2020 to greater London for HGVs and to inner London for vans in 2021, instead of 2019, she also highlighted the impact on business exponentially.
“We are calling for businesses based in the affected area to have access to a sunset clause, such as has been offered to private residents, allowing them greater time to comply with the change required without the need for unnecessary and potentially crippling additional charges for new vehicles,” she added.
The FTA also says that calls from the Mayor for a scrappage scheme are well founded, and added that it is the place of national Government to help prevent the cost burden to implement these measures falling on local authorities, businesses and residents.
“If such a scrappage scheme were created, it would give the Mayor the necessary room to introduce more flexibility to the London ULEZ, helping operators to avoid some of this unwieldy and unexpected burden on small businesses,” commented Chapman.