The Road Haulage Association is challenging local authorities nationwide to reduce harmful emissions without resorting to charging trucks to enter clean air zones. The call comes as Southampton scraps plans to introduce a CAZ that would have seen non-Euro 6 lorries facing £100-per-day charges.

Southampton City Council announced the u-turn after receiving more than 9,000 responses to its public consultation.

New studies revealed that nitrogen dioxide levels in Southampton would be within legal limits in 2020 and a charging CAZ scheme wouldn’t deliver compliance any sooner.

Nottingham and Derby local authorities have opted for non-charging plans including investment in cleaner air vehicle technologies in moves welcomed by the RHA.

RHA chief executive, Richard Burnett has challenged councils who need to improve air quality to follow suit and avoid imposing punitive charges that could see hauliers go out of business.

He said: “Southampton has made the right decision dropping a charging CAZ scheme that would have put businesses and livelihoods at risk.

“This sends out a clear message to town halls across the country that CAZ schemes are a flawed concept – they’re short sighted and anti-business. It’s a victory for common sense”.

But hauliers operating in Leeds still face an uncertain future after the City Council presses ahead with plans to charge pre-Euro 6 lorries £50 per day to enter a CAZ.

The Government rejected the local authority’s bid for funding in November sparking fears that operators could be charged even more.

The RHA criticised the Leeds plans, saying that they over-estimated the numbers of Euro 6 lorries that would operate in the CAZ, and were promoting retrofit to reduce emissions from older lorries even though there’s no product on the market.

Mr Burnett warned that its CAZ proposals were poorly thought out and would be devastating for many businesses that service the city.

He said: “The City Council needs to come up with a plan that targets emission sources proportionately instead of simply hitting hauliers with ridiculous charges and hoping for the best.”

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