Many commercial vehicle operators will not have enough time or money to upgrade their fleets for the introduction of the new Leeds Clean Air Zone (CAZ) arriving in January 2020.
The British Vehicle Rental & Leasing Association (BVRLA) issued the warning as Leeds City Council became the first authority to have its charging CAZ plans approved by government. It will charge non-Euro VI trucks £50 per day to enter parts of the city from 6th January 2020.
To help businesses affected, government has pledged more than £29 million in funding for the council to implement the zone and support businesses. The council has stated that £13.8m would be made available as grants of up to £16,000 per affected HGV, subject to a ‘funding competition’. Applications are expected to open towards the end of March and grants can be used for either retrofitting or towards the purchasing of a new vehicle.
BVRLA Chief Executive Gerry Keaney said: “Around half of the UK truck fleet is currently non-compliant with the CAZ standards so we are pleased to see that Leeds City Council will be providing support to HGV operators.
“With less than a year to go until the new charging zone comes in, small businesses will need all the help they can get as they will be hardest hit by charges. With a typical rigid 18-tonne truck costing £40,000, many companies are going to face massive costs in upgrading their fleets.
“We would like to see more cities following in the footsteps of Nottingham, whose air quality measures are set to reach targets without the introduction of charging zones.”
Leeds City Council Councillor James Lewis, executive member with responsibility for sustainability and the environment announced the council’s approved plans thusly: “Businesses that are likely to be affected need to look at the vehicles they operate and begin their final preparations for the introduction of the zone. We recognise that this will be a difficult transition for some businesses to make.
“We have not received the full amount of funding that we asked the government for, however, we are pleased to confirm today that a number of significant financial support packages will be available to assist owners of affected vehicles. We will be working hard to make sure this money is available swiftly. Leeds City Council will not make money from these charges.”
The BVRLA says it continues to engage with cities across the UK to encourage them to consider all alternatives to charging Clean Air Zones.