The Road Haulage Association has concerns that the current approach to improving air quality fails to deal with the issue appropriately and harms business in the capital. It says trucks play a vital part in maintaining London’s economy and 131m tonnes each year (approximately 430,000 tonnes each working day) are carried on the capital’s roads.

But from April 7, HGVs entering London’s ULEZ that do not meet Euro 6 – the lorry standard since 2014 – will be fined £100 per day to deliver goods in the capital, despite the fact the haulage industry has embraced cleaner vehicles with emissions from trucks halving in the last four years.

The RHA says London’s traffic congestion problem is getting worse despite falling volumes of traffic. Traffic delays are up by 18% since 2015; over the last 20 years traffic has fallen by 7%.

Commenting, RHA chief executive, Richard Burnett said: “London’s road network needs to be managed better. We need to focus on dealing with massive impact of congestion on local NOx emissions. The haulage sector has done its bit with NOx from HGVs halving over recent years.

“Emissions will continue to fall as new, cleaner Euro 6 HGVs naturally replace older vehicles but TfL has failed to understand vehicle life cycles and has failed to allow sufficient time for businesses, in particular small businesses to adjust.

“The prospect of having to pay an extra £100 per day will mean financial ruin for many operators. Their only alternative will be to stop servicing the capital altogether.

“We also face TfL’s plans for a central London zero emission zone from 2025, which will simply act as a big disincentive for operators to invest in clean Euro 6 lorries in the short term.

“Trucks last around 12 years: demanding new ones and then demanding they are replaced again in five years will be bad for the economy and the people of London.

“The current Low Emission Zone covers the whole of London – the Ultra- Low Emission Zone that came into effect on April 8 covers the area where the current congestion charge is in effect. The big crunch for hauliers will come next year when the ULEZ standards are extended for all lorries across all London.

“This all comes on top of the prospect of new clean Euro 6 lorries being 22% more expensive as a result of planned tariffs under current government Brexit plans.”

The consequences for TfL of ignoring this will be more congestion from vans and higher costs for consumers.

Concluding, Richard Burnett said: “We all want cleaner air – and it’s already happening. But London’s clean air policies are making it harder for operators to upgrade their fleets to Euro 6 because the cost of cost of change is much higher.”