MPs to probe impact of CAZs on freight sector

The newly reformed All-Party Parliamentary Group for Road Freight and Logistics is calling for evidence into the impact of Clean Air Zones (CAZ) on the freight sector. The group, which is chaired by former transport minister Sir Mike Penning MP, has outlined a series of questions focused on the impacts of the haulage industry, the approach taken by councils and whether national government have provided enough support for affected businesses and local authorities. As a part of this, the group will be writing to Defra, the DfT and the JAQU, as well as those local authorities who are planning to introduce a charging CAZ.

The intent of the group is to collect written submissions only. The deadline for written submissions is 5pm on March 11. Responses should be sent via email to [email protected]

Sir Mike Penning said: 'We all welcome the government's determination to tackle the challenge of air quality in our towns and cities, but it is essential that well-intentioned policies do not lead to damaging an industry so vital to the UK economy. 'This inquiry will look at how decisions have been taken and what practical steps can be put in place to ensure that the haulage industry continues to play its essential role throughout our towns and cities.'

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) welcomed the inquiry and said the government should consider different approaches other than CAZs. Natalie Chapman, head of urban policy at the FTA said: 'The FTA and its members are fully committed to improving the quality of air in the UK's towns and cities, which is why we want to ensure any air quality scheme is designed to deliver significant, long-term benefits. 'We do question whether Clean Air Zones (CAZs) - along with similar charging schemes - are the most effective approach, as they merely speed up natural fleet replacement cycles, delivering a very short-term improvement at most and pushing logistics operators to incur higher than anticipated costs.

'The FTA's members believe the government would be better placed to focus on a broader package of measures, including retiming deliveries to quieter periods, maximising road layouts, better managing congestion and incentivising businesses to transition to alternatively fuelled vehicles. After all, charging air quality schemes hit small and local businesses hardest: the very companies that can least afford to upgrade their vehicles. 'And while the FTA is pleased the government is implementing a centralised system for CAZ payments, we are very disappointed that there will not be an autopay function; this will place a huge administrative burden upon businesses.

We will be sharing these points in our response to the inquiry.'

Photo Credit - Big Stock

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