The RHA has called on councils to think twice before hitting hauliers and local business with the expense of charging clean air zones, after Southampton abandoned the approach.

Southampton City Council turned its back on plans to charge vehicles to enter its proposed CAZ last week.

The council said £15m-worth of air quality projects already in action over the past three years - such as cleaner city buses and freight consolidation - had slashed nitrogen dioxide (NOx) levels by 24% in the most polluted areas.

It came after Nottingham and Derby both turned their back on charging CAZs, while Leeds sought financial support from central government for affected hauliers in the city - a bid that has however been rebuffed.

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Birmingham is pushing ahead with the introduction of a charging CAZ in the city, although non-compliant hauliers will face a daily charge of £50 rather than £100.

RHA chief executive, Richard Burnett, challenged councils who need to improve air quality to follow suit and avoid imposing punitive charges that could see hauliers put out of business.

“Southampton has made the right decision dropping a charging CAZ scheme that would have put businesses and livelihoods at risk.

“This sends out a clear message to town halls across the country that CAZ schemes are a flawed concept - they’re short sighted and anti-business. It’s a victory for common sense,” he said.

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