CAZs should take fair approach to reducing pollution, say fleet firms
Planned legal action to take the Government back to court to address “holes” in its current air quality plans needs to ensure a fair approach is adopted to address the pollution crisis.
That’s the view of a number of fleet firms as environmental lawyers at ClientEarth announce that the Government will face a High Court hearing before 23 February 2018 over its “persistent failure to deal with air pollution”.
Although the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) published revised air quality plans in July following a court order, ClientEarth says the plans fail to require any action in 45 local authorities in England or throughout Wales – and is reiterating its calls for a national network of charging Clean Air Zones (CAZs).
The news comes as Leeds City Council presses ahead with its plans for such a zone, which could go out for public consultation within weeks if members of the executive board approve the proposal at a meeting next week.
However, Matt Dale, consultancy services manager for ALD Automotive, has said that such schemes need to take a more holistic approach to drive ULEV take-up while also ensuring that the latest Euro 6 diesels are not inculpated.
Speaking to Fleet World, Dale said: “Air quality affects us all. We therefore fully support any plans to promote clean air in this country and recognise the need to take action sooner rather than later. We want the Government to recognise that improving air quality is a long-term commitment in which we all play a part.
“The biggest change will be driven by Government policies that directly encourage and enable the uptake of Alternatively Fuelled Vehicles (AFVs), giving drivers a genuine alternative choice and genuine incentives to make them.
“Increasing the number of public charge points, for example, would encourage a greater uptake of alternatively fuelled vehicles in the commercial sector as fleets gain more confidence in the UK’s charging network.”
He added: “We recognise that changes to taxation and the implementation of Clean Air Zones will have a part to play in improving air quality. However we encourage the Government to distinguish between the different Euro Emissions Standards as part of these plans to prevent unfairly penalising drivers of the cleanest Euro 6 diesel vehicles.”
Meanwhile Simon Staton, director of client management of Venson Automotive Solutions, has also said that wider support is needed to help drivers migrate to ULEVs.
Staton said: “At the moment, the Government provides purchasing help with plug-in car and van grants to fleet providers, but more support is still needed to incentivise fleet decision-makers and drivers to invest in ‘greener’ vehicles.
“For van fleet operators the choice of models currently on sale is minimal, however an increasing array of 100% electric and plug-in hybrid models from mainstream manufacturers are due for launch. Clearly manufacturers are supporting the switch to alternative fuel vehicles, but it is essential that the Government provides greater support in this area so that businesses can play a key role in reducing their vehicle emissions.”
And Tantalum Corporation – which is currently signing up fleets for its free Air.Car trial to support research into reducing air pollution – has again pointed out how smart technology could enable a fair approach to CAZ charging.
Matthew Pencharz, London’s Former Deputy Mayor for Environment & Energy and now Business to Government lead on the Air.Car project, said: “We understand of course that the Government has concerns about the financial impact Clean Air Zones will have on drivers, but smart technology such as Tantalum’s Air.Car can charge people on the actual environmental impact of their journey, not the car they drive.
“This smart and fair approach would give power to drivers to reduce their own pollution emissions, which could be halved through better driving, and in turn pay a lower charge for driving in cities. Such a smart system would also capture co-benefits such as incentivising calmer driving, thereby making the roads safer.
“If the Government took this approach forward, it would make the implementation of Clean Air Zones more palatable and make the UK, 61 years on from the Clean Air Act, again a world leader in the battle against air pollution.”