The expansion of London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone will place a disproportionate burden on small businesses, the Freight Transport Association (FTA) has claimed.
Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan announced on Friday that the ULEZ is to be introduced in the centre of the city from early 2019, before expanding out to the North and South Circulars by 2021.
This will include tougher emissions standards for the whole of Greater London for lorries in 2020, and inner London for cars and vans the following year.
The proposals have been welcomed by clean air campaigners, but organisations including the FTA have expressed concerns at the potential additional costs to businesses operating within the expanded zone.
Replacing the current T-Charge, the ULEZ would see vehicles that do not meet emission standards liable to incur a daily charge to drive within the zone, ranging from £12.50 for some light vehicles, up to an additional £100 for some heavy goods vehicles which do not meet the Euro VI emissions limit.
According to FTA, a typical small firm with five lorries or five vans, the extra cost of compliance in 2020 or 2021 will amount to more than 40% of their annual turnover – putting the business model of the company at risk.
The Association has said it will continue to press for ‘sunset clauses’ for operators based inside the expanded Zone who need more time to meet the requirements, while not endangering positive overall progress on air quality.
FTA’s head of UK policy, Christopher Snelling, commented: “While some large logistics operators will have mostly compliant fleets, the real losers here will be small companies reliant on their lorries or vans. Small firms tend to buy second-hand so will have older vehicles that do not reach the latest emissions standards and will really struggle to raise the loans they will need to buy compliant vehicles a few years early then they would have.
“We all fully support the need to clean our air – after all, our members live in cities too. This is why FTA has been positively engaged in the compulsory deployment of the Euro standards regulations for our vehicles since the 1990s. But the reality is the ULEZ is not a transformative measure – it only brings forward the air quality gain that was coming anyway by a few years, at a cost to the livelihoods of many small businesses in London.”