Government plans for a national Clean Air Zone (CAZ) charging system that will not allow operators of non-Euro-6 trucks to automatically pay entry charges have been slammed as “anti-business, childish and unacceptable” by the RHA.

The CAZ charging system is the brain child of the Joint Air Quality Unit (JAQU), which is a joint venture between the DfT and DEFRA.

CAZ charges will be applied to all trucks that do not meet Euro 6 standards and can be as high as £100 a day.

The JAQU charging system, which is being developed to be rolled out nationally, will automatically fine operators who don’t pay, but will not automatically alert operators when their non-Euro 6 trucks enter a CAZ area and incur a charge.

Instead, the onus is on operators to separately log and monitor their trucks' routes and pay for every entry their non-Euro 6 trucks make into CAZ areas.

RHA national policy director Duncan Buchanan told MT: “JAQU are putting a Government charging system in place that will not allow operators to auto-pay the charges to enter the zone.

“This makes managing vehicles complicated in that every entry into the zone has to be separately logged and paid for. Mistakes will happen and operators will get fines.”

Buchanan claimed the strategy is part of a deliberate attempt to deter non-Euro trucks from entering CAZ areas.

“JAQU are being deliberately difficult towards operators. They have said they do not want to make it easy to pay. They have also said they cannot do it in time – we find that difficult to believe as they plan to auto-fine operators who don’t pay.

He added: “This anti-business approach is childish and is unacceptable behaviour from a Government department. It displays a lack of understanding about the complexity involved for many operators.”

The RHA has also raised concerns about the lack of plans to charge non-Euro 6 foreign trucks that enter CAZ zones.

Buchanan said: “There is no JAQU system for charging non-Euro 6 foreign lorries – they are leaving that to the councils to find a way to do that.

“Local councils do not have the systems to do this, JAQU know that in the real world they are allowing non-UK vehicles freedom to ignore the CAZ charges while UK trucks are subject to charges and fines.”

DfT said this week that: “Due to the number of local authorities planning to operate CAZ, and the interaction with the central payment portal, it is not possible to offer auto pay to any vehicle type. This is the same as London’s low emission zone.”

A DfT spokeswoman added: “As part of our commitment to lower transport emissions, we are working closely with local authorities to ensure an effective charging infrastructure is in place in advance of the first Clean Air Zones being launched later in the year.”