The introduction of Clean Air Zones should be put on hold and reviewed amid ongoing concerns of the impact of charges on the back of the pandemic.
The call comes from MPs from the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Road Freight and Logistics on the back of an inquiry earlier this year into how firms will be affected and whether the Government has provided enough support for affected businesses and local authorities.
Clean Air Zones are set to be introduced in several cities including Birmingham and Bath and will bring charges for commercial vehicle operators. However, several local authorities have opted to not introduce a charging zone or in the case of Leeds City Council have reversed their decision to introduce a charging zone.
The report’s central recommendation is for the Government to pause the rollout of Clean Air Zones and to undertake a full review of the CAZ policy to determine whether it remains needed or whether alternative measures should be taken.
It also calls for the introduction of ‘phased charging’ with charges only introduced following a grace period, government funding of a new centralised and ring-fenced fund to help businesses scrap the most polluting vehicles and the introduction of a sunset clause.
It also says a single national payment portal that covers all road charges should be introduced.
Sir Mike Penning, 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.
“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.