Improvements to UK air quality should be assisted through a national scrappage scheme, says the Freight Transport Association.
Ahead of the anticipated Government’s Air Quality Plan announcement, the FTA believes that national level fiscal measures should be announced to enable small business and vehicle owners to meet the costs of operating in new Clean Air Zones.
It says that a national scrappage scheme would support efforts to achieve air quality improvements, while preventing an unsustainable burden falling on small businesses which fail to comply with CAZs – especially small and medium-sized operators and those utilising vans or specialist HGVs.
The FTA’s research suggests that the additional cost of compliance could be in excess of 150% of annual turnover for some SMEs.
“There is no question that we all have to continue to improve air quality – but it should be recognised that our air is getting cleaner all the time,” FTA Head of National & Regional Policy, Christopher Snelling, said. “The Government should be pursing measures that will provide the most health benefit for the least economic disruption. The proposed CAZs pose a serious risk to the viability of many small businesses based in these zones, and a real risk to jobs and local prosperity.
“When the CAZs are introduced, there will only be five years’ worth of compliant HGVs in the national fleet, meaning specialist operators and small businesses who tend to purchase second-hand will face a massive cost burden if they are to upgrade vehicles automatically.
“The situation will be even worse for vans, where only two and a half years’ worth of compliant vehicles will be available. This is not long enough for a second-hand market in compliant vehicles to have come into existence, and thus requires an immediate purchase of a new vehicle, again threatening the way of life of many small businesses.”
“Air quality is a national problem and there should be national measures to help solve it. Tax breaks or a scrappage scheme funded by the Government could help businesses and diesel car drivers cope with the changes and to reduce the need for local restrictions.”