The government’s suspension of all Clean Air Zone schemes to January 2021 is not long enough, the RHA has insisted.

The association is calling for the suspension to be extended for another year to January 2022 to allow hauliers to recover from the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The decision to suspend Clean Air Zone schemes was confirmed by Defra minister Rebecca Pow this week.

The move follows calls from Leeds and Birmingham City Councils for permission to delay their schemes as they battle the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on their cities' economies.

Confirming the suspension, Pow said Defra was still committed to introducing the CAZ schemes but would “delay introducing Clean Air Zones until after the COVID-19 outbreak response. We will keep the timetable under review but we expect the introduction of Clean Air Zones to be no earlier than January 2021.”

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The RHA called for more time for hauliers to allow them to recover from the financial impact of the pandemic.

Rod McKenzie, RHA policy and public affairs MD, told “When we come out of this pandemic think of the enormous problems this industry will be facing. The last thing they need is to be saddled with the extra cost of meeting the requirements of the Clean Air Zones.

“Our SME members have very low profit margins of 2%-3% anyway and when this pandemic ends they will have very little cash in the bank - they will not have the money needed to invest in the new Euro-6 trucks needed to comply with CAZ requirements.

“The industry needs more time. Adding another year would leave us in a much better position. These are really, really tough times for our members and adding yet more bureaucracy, red tape and expense at this critical time is the last thing this industry needs.”