The Government's Clean Air Zone plans - a breath of fresh air?  

by Richard Ellithorne, Membership Services Director
21 August 2018

Richard EllithorneLast year the Government published plans to tackle roadside nitrogen dioxide concentrations, which included a requirement for Birmingham, Nottingham, Derby, Leeds and Southampton City Councils to introduce Clean Air Zones from January 2020. The Councils are required to submit a full business case by 15 September 2018 after local consultations this summer.  

Essentially, the new zones are designed to improve air quality as quickly as possible to comply with the law. In cities where charging is applied, only vehicles that meet current emissions standards – Euro 4 for petrol. Euro 6 for diesel – will not have to pay a daily charge.  Hybrid, electric and LPG engine vehicles will also not have to pay.  

Clean Air Zones (CAZ) are a particular problem for merchants as, unlike buses, coaches and taxis, merchants have little or no choice but to use diesel HGVs to move heavy materials.  Electric vehicles are not yet a realistic option, though this may change in the future.   

The BMF has been focussing its campaign to minimise the impact on businesses that do not have Euro VI/6 diesel HGVs, and in some cities, vans.  Lobbying of government ministers and a number of councils tis underway to persuade them not to penalise members unfairly.  The BMF puts the case for more time to enable members to make the necessary operational changes, together with discounts or temporary exemptions for SMEs based in or near a new CAZ, plus funding or tax changes to help replace old lorries, trucks and vans with cleaner, greener models.”  

In June, Leeds and Birmingham City Councils unveiled their formal public consultations – which the BMF along with other bodies such as the Freight Transport Association are studying closely to assemble their responses.   The presumption is that older polluting HGVs are likely to face £50-£100 daily charges, and in some instances LGV’s will pay £12.50.  

However, there is some positive news.  It seems that Leeds has listened to the concerns that the BMF expressed.  The proposed boundary of the city’s CAZ has been adjusted and remains a category B, which means that van users will not be affected.  The charge for older HGVs entering the zone will be £50 a day, half that of London.  

Birmingham’s planned CAZ is also smaller than anticipated, covering the areas inside the Middle Ring Road, but will apply to all private and commercial vehicles.  

Meanwhile, Southampton is consulting on a city-wide Category B CAZ, which again exempts vans, charging non-compliant HGVs up to £100 a day to enter.  

The BMF hopes to have more news in time for the BMF Members’ Day Annual Conference on 27 September.  

Transport Manager CPC  

BMF Transport Plus providers, Prompt Services, report that the Senior Traffic Commissioner has started a review of the Statutory Guidance and Directions documents which set out how the laws and regulations surrounding operator licensing are interpreted.  

The most significant expected change is to the requirements of transport managers to maintain their professional knowledge.  Most builders merchants operate on a restricted licence and restricted operator licence holders will be required to demonstrate they have done so by undertaking two days of Certificate of Professional Competence refresher training every five years.    

Direct Vision Standard

Transport for London (TfL) is pressing ahead with the introduction of a Direct Vision Standard (DVS) for HGVs to improve safety for vulnerable road users, such as cyclists. The proposed DVS will use a star system to rate HGVs from 0 (lowest) to 5 (highest) based on how much the driver can see directly through their cab windows, as opposed to indirectly through cameras or mirrors.   

The DVS is due to come into force next year and TfL has now released details of the star ratings for Euro VI HGVs.  However, HGV owners must contact their vehicle’s manufacturer for find out the rating for their particular model.  

Further work is being carried out on ratings for Euro V and Euro iV vehicles, and we await more information from TfL on these older models.   This article was produced with assistance from Prompt Services, who provide BMF’s Transport Plus service.  

If you would like to book a FREE transport health check, or to find out more about how BMF Transport Plus could benefit your business, please contact Prompt Training at [email protected] or 01773 850428, quoting your BMF membership number.