The RHA and FTA have urged TfL to push back its proposed October 2020 start date for requiring Euro-6 lorries across the whole of Greater London.

A consultation into plans to strengthen the existing London Low Emission Zone to Euro-6 level closed last week (28 February). This would see Euro-4 and Euro-5 lorries charged £100 to enter the capital and Euro-3 and older as much as £300.

However, both trade associations have urged TfL to slow down the proposals, which they say could have a damaging impact on hauliers.

They cited a lack of Euro-6 trucks; inability to redeploy older trucks due to other cities exploring CAZ plans; uncertainty surrounding direct vision standard (DVS) requirements; and lack of retrofit options for HGVs as major barriers to compliance.

RHA recommends any Euro-6 requirement for the London LEZ starts at the earliest in 2023, with no charge for Euro-5 in the meantime, to enable hauliers more time to comply. "This will give businesses more time to make the required adjustments and support a more orderly transition," its consultation response said.

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If charging was to be brought in, it recommends an “Intelligent Phasing” concept is used. This would see newer vehicles, such as Euro-5 trucks, charged the lowest daily rates to enter London, for example £10 a day, with older trucks charged more.

The FTA also urged TfL for a delayed start date and states in its consultation response: “A delay in tightening up the LEZ and the implementation of DVS would help manufacturers meet demand for compliant vehicles."

It wants to see targeted extensions for operators running specialist fleets (such as sewage repair equipment or recovery trucks), which are more expensive to replace, as well as a “sunset clause” for local operators based inside the zone to allow them more time to upgrade.

To improve freight efficiency in the capital, FTA also wants to see an overhaul of the London Lorry Control Scheme, increased access to bus lanes in off-peak periods, and improved loading/unloading and rest facilities in London.

National CAZ plans

Following its third High Court defeat to environmental lawyer ClientEarth last month, the government is now required to push for swifter air quality action in 33 more local authorities.

However, the RHA fears that any "knee-jerk" reaction by the government regarding CAZs could well be "signing a death warrant" for those operators unable to upgrade their fleets in time or pay heft fines to enter towns and cities.

Chief executive Richard Burnett said: “We’re seeing that local authorities are hell-bent on scapegoating hauliers for their own failures to meet legal obligations. Imposing punitive charges on low-margin operators will send many of them to the wall and will squeeze other businesses who rely on them to stock their shelves.

“By 2020, more than half of UK-registered HGVs will be Euro-6 and we’ll have reduced our NOx emissions by 65% since 2014, so they’re picking on the wrong people."

He added that the possibility of hauliers being charged to enter multiple CAZs in one day is "absurb".

As in London, the RHA wants to see a workable approach to CAZs to enable the transition to new vehicles, which could include a scrappage scheme for commercial vehicles.

It also wants to see CAZ plans synchronised between different cities.

London mayor Sadiq Khan has previously said of his plans to extend the Euro-6 zone, “I am determined to take the bold action needed to protect the public from London’s poisonous, deadly air. I can’t ignore the shameful fact that London’s air is so toxic it harms children’s lungs, exacerbates chronic illness and contributes to thousands of premature deaths each year.

“Following the successful introduction of the T-Charge, and confirmation of the central London ULEZ, I am moving ahead with the next stage of my plan."