Cleaner lorries will receive a 10% discount on the HGV Road User Levy from next year as part of the government’s plans to improve air quality.
From February 2019, lorries meeting Euro-6 emissions standards will pay the lower rate, while Euro-5 and older HGVs will be hit with a 20% fee increase.
The changes follow a consultation that ran last year into reforming the HGV levy, which asked for feedback on a number of ideas, including emissions reduction and route optimisation.
When the change comes into effect, the government says that more than half of UK lorries benefit from lower fees, with the UK haulage industry paying less longer term as operators adopt cleaner lorries.
Roads Minister Jesse Norman said: “This government is committed to improving the air we breathe and delivering a green revolution in transport.
“HGVs account for around a fifth of harmful nitrogen oxide emissions from road transport, but they only travel 5% of the total miles. That’s why we’re changing the HGV levy to encourage firms to phase out the most polluting lorries and bring in the cleanest ones.”
Changes to the levy - based on maximum fee level for a 40-44-tonne artic
|Current rate||Euro-6 rate from Feb 2019||Euro 1-5 rate from Feb 2019|
The RHA said the “grossly unfair” move will see more than half of hauliers (approximately 56%) hit with additional costs.
Chief executive Richard Burnett said: “Road transport operators have made huge strides in adopting cleaner air technologies. Despite this, government has made it very clear it has no interest in either acknowledging that progress, or in supporting the industry on its journey to an emissions-free future. “
He added: “Of course, we all want clean air, but we consider it grossly unfair that government uses clean air policies to justify squeezing money out of already cash-strapped hauliers to plug financial gaps elsewhere. Where is the incentive? What’s needed is a realistic scrappage scheme that supports our industry during this transition, not a penal approach.”
FTA has welcomed the government's recognition of Euro-6 technology as a clean technology and the 10% reduction in levy costs.
However, it fears the 20% hike for older HGVs will unfairly penalise SMEs already facing additional costs from compliance with pending clean air zones.
"It hurts them because the re-sale value of their slightly older lorries, the Euro-4s and 5s, has fallen so much - making the jump to afford a new Euro-6 so much greater, “ said FTA head of UK policy Christopher Snelling.
He added that the government should have loaded the increase on to older most polluting lorries (Euro-3 and below) to create a short-term market for the Euro-4 and 5 vehicles that those delivering to city centres will be seeking to sell on.
Snelling said: "Trucks have been getting cleaner for decades, we are not dealing with an intractable problem but merely the question of how soon do the beneficial changes come. The government's approach to cleaner air risks putting some smaller hauliers' livelihoods at risk for only a temporary gain on air quality.
“The reform of the levy was an opportunity to help, and for the most part the government has failed to take it."