Businesses operating in and around Leeds urgently need clarification on Leeds City Council’s newly-
approved Clean Air Zone (CAZ), according to the Freight Transport Association (FTA).
In particular they need to understand how to access funding to replace banned commercial vehicles when the low emission zone comes into effect in February 2020.
Without this funding, FTA believes that many companies will find it impossible to replace their existing fleets, and will struggle to fulfil business contracts in and around the city.
Future profitability and trading could be threatened as a result.
However, the exemption of three core industrial areas from the proposed Zone until 2024 could mitigate the very worst potential economic damage the Zone presents to the local economy and could save local enterprise from a very uncertain future.
Malcolm Bingham, Head of Policy North of England at the FTA, commented: “The FTA has been working closely with Leeds City Council and is pleased it acted upon our recommendation to grant exemption to three core industrial areas – Holbeck, Pudsey and Seacroft – until 2024 to mitigate the damage the Zone will inflict upon the local economy.
“This move should also give logistics businesses more time to upgrade their fleets to meet the required emission standards.
“Nevertheless, the exemption of three areas is not enough to prevent operating costs for small businesses from soaring, at a time when margins are already stretched and the economic outlook is uncertain, which unfairly penalises the hard-working companies and individuals that keep Leeds’s economy thriving.
“This also ignores other contributors to emissions levels across the city and places the burden for cleaning up the city’s air squarely at the feet of the very businesses which keep Leeds trading – this is unfair and essentially amounts to a tax on business.”
Mr Bingham continued: “The Council has stated it will grant businesses up to £16,000 to replace HGVs which do not meet the required emission standards.
“But this funding is subject to a competition, and the freight industry urgently needs details on how businesses can apply and what the conditions are.
“The logistics industry desperately needs clarity on the options available to them – including where to apply and when – for them to reach compliance before the Zone comes into effect in just one year,” concluded Mr Bingham.