The RHA is urging politicians and policymakers to learn lessons from the London ULEZ on the journey to net zero and offer greater support for hauliers and drivers to make the transition to cleaner vehicles.
The warning comes as the expansion of the ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) to cover all of Greater London comes into force today (29 August), which has prompted fierce opposition from some residents, as well as a failed High Court challenge and the vandalization of 380 ULEZ cameras.
A total of 2,750 cameras are set to be erected around Greater London with around 1,900 already in situ.
Euro-6 trucks are exempt from ULEZ charges with all other lorries facing a daily fine of £100 for entering the zone.
The RHA said this week that both hauliers operating in London and many Londoners have struggled to upgrade to cleaner vehicles to comply with the rules, which has affected the residual values
RHA said: “Policies like ULEZ did not allow a second-hand market of affordable, compliant vehicles to develop. In turn, as ordinary Londoners have discovered, this hurt small businesses who could not easily afford new vehicles to drive down emissions.”
RHA environment and vehicles lead, Chris Ashley called for the launch of new policies, such as fuel duty rebates, to support people and businesses as efforts continue to drive down CO2 emissions.
He said: “Just like the people of London, our industry wants to improve the environment we live in.
“But we’ve found out the hard way that relying on replacing vehicles quickly causes financial problems for many – especially those with limited means.
“We need to learn these lessons as we continue the journey to net zero. We must think differently – there are other ways to improve air quality including greater investment in clean engines and incentives like fuel duty rebates linked to reducing emissions.
“The rules must be attainable for everyone – we’ve got to make it easier for people and businesses to move away from fossil fuels.”
London mayor Sadiq Khan has criticised the lack of government financial support for ULEZ, and its accompanying TfL-funded £160m scrappage scheme, pointing out that the government has given financial support to clean air zones in cities including Bristol, Birmingham and Portsmouth.
“If clean air is right for them then why isn’t clean air right for London? Why has the government given no support to London? I am disappointed at the lack of support from the government. I am disappointed that they seem to be weaponising air pollution and climate change,” he said.
In contrast to Khan, Manchester mayor Andy Burnham decided in February this year to pause similar clean air zone plans, citing the challenges of significant vehicle supply chain issues, rising vehicle prices and the cost-of-living crisis.
Like Khan, he is demanding more government support and is calling for around £130m of compensation from central government to help drivers scrap and replace their old vehicles, which he says will do more to help clean up Manchester’s pollution problems than penalising drivers of non-compliant vehicles.