Road transport firms in Leeds fear the imposition of a clean air zone (CAZ) in less than two years could put them out of business.
They are calling for a slowdown in regards CAZ proposals that could see non Euro-6 HGVs facing daily fines of £100 from 1 January 2020.
In line with government air quality rules, Leeds, along with 28 other local authorities, is required to introduce measures to reduce NOx emissions, which currently breach EU limits.
The city set out its proposals for a category B CAZ in December, which would see coaches/buses, taxis/private hire vehicles and HGVs needing to be Euro-6 from the outer Leeds ring road and in.
However, local HGV operators and service centres have told CM the short lead time for rolling out the Leeds CAZ could have a crippling impact on their businesses.
Andrew Manson, MD at HGV parts and maintenance firm Sewell Auto Electric & Battery Centre, said that 90% of vehicles visiting his premises for servicing and tacho work are Euro-4 or Euro-5 standard.
“Hauliers won't bring their vehicles to me and pay an extra £100 to enter Leeds,” he said, of the business that was established in 1943 in the city and has been at its current location since 1972. “We are part of the peripheral fallout of the CAZ; we have absolutely no control over this.”
Matthew Tate, director at MTMS, which subcontracts specialist tippers to national firms and also runs a workshop and MoT facility for trucks, forestry and plant equipment, added: “We can't go to the people we are hauling for and say ‘we need £100 a day’ to run vehicles on their jobs.
“They will just say update your fleet. But the money isn't in the job to update the fleet.”
Also concerned is local haulier Anthony Hope, director at three-truck ARH Transport, who has invested in both a Euro-4 and Euro-5 in the past year to update his fleet. “In less than two years’ time, these could be useless,” he said.
All three firms would like to see any emissions-related charges brought in gradually, to enable local firms to be upgrade vehicles in an affordable manner.
They fear that high prices of second-hand Euro-6 vehicles, coupled with long lead times for specialist trucks and lack of retrofit options for HGVS, make the January 2020 proposals too challenging for small, local businesses.
Leeds City Council is urging all local businesses to make sure they have their say in CAZ plans so it can understand the impact on different sectors, with the public consultation open until 2 March.
It is considering a wide range of options for its CAZ proposals, which could include exemptions for specific classes of vehicle, or ‘sunset’ periods to provide additional time for upgrade if a robust case is made.
- The consultation to expand the Ultra Low Emission Zone across the whole of London for HGVs also closes next week on 28 February.
- Early Ultra Low Emission Zone start date puts recovery operators at risk
- Clean air zones could hurt small haulage firms