Latest plans for clean air zones in Leeds and Birmingham brings some progress for managing the impacts on business in the cities but will still produce substantial costs for small businesses, according to the Freight Transport Association (FTA).
In Leeds, the proposed plans – currently out for consultation – cover HGVs, buses, coaches, taxis and private hire but not cars or vans, and have been updated with a smaller boundary and reduced charges.
The plans in Birmingham, also out for consultation, cover a clean air zoone just the area inside its Middle Ring Road – smaller than the city-wide zone that had been feared by those responsible for deliveries to businesses within the centre of the city. However, the proposals will cover all vehicles, so small businesses with vans as well as those with lorries will be affected. Vans as recent as three years old will be charged under the proposals.
FTA’s head of UK policy Christopher Snelling said: “We need councils to implement these zones with as much sensitivity to local businesses as possible. Leeds, especially, has listened to the concerns we and others expressed and reduced the impacts while still achieving their air quality objectives and we urge other cities to do the same.
“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.”
Snelling added that clean air zones only bring a temporary air quality benefit, “bringing forward what was coming anyway”.
He finished: “CAZs need to be a last resort and as small as possible where they are used.”