First, there was much comment about the plans for setting up clean air zones that will be implemented in London, Birmingham, Derby, Leeds, Nottingham and Southampton, and possibly elsewhere in 2019.
The Freight Transport Association was concerned about the lack of clarity involved in the process of setting up clean air zones. Elizabeth de Jong, FTA’s Director of UK Policy, said: “Uncertainty will hurt industry – FTA understands we won’t know where lorries and vans will be restricted until next year, giving only a year for businesses to plan their fleets, leaving many with potentially large bills on top of rising operating costs in a difficult trading environment.” It argues that a grace period should be given to provide extra time for hauliers to buy or lease compliant vehicles.
RHA objects to the clean air zone proposals because of their negative effect on fleets running pre-2014 lorries. It argued that restrictions should be phased in. It said: “Moving in a single step towards mandating Euro VI in all urban areas in 2020 / 2021 will be very damaging for UK businesses and will have a negligible air quality impact in many cases.” It proposed that Euro V lorries should not be restricted or taxed until 2024 at the earliest.
For the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA), having a level playing field is what matters most. Chief executive Gerry Keaney said: “We must ensure that zones are consistent across the UK – not only having the same emissions standard requirement, but also in terms of their signage, enforcement and penalties for non-compliance.”
Others commented on the big news about cars and vans, a nationwide ban on conventional petrol and diesel-powered models.
FairFuelUK praised the lack of tax rises on diesel, but worried about the drastic impact of the changes. “Better to phase in new fuel technologies to work effectively and be supported, without a target date to terminate diesel and petrol,” it said, adding: “With several proven solutions to lowering emissions available now, such as retrofitting systems, bulk additives and for the petrol mix of bioethanol to move from e5 to e10, the Minister has missed an opportunity to solve the emissions issue now, fairly and at little cost.” Lead spokesman for FairFuelUK, Quentin Willson, concluded: “So by 2040, no fuel stations, no garage repairs, no car parts suppliers, and 15m diesels scrapped. The cost will be trillions.”
The British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) said that the plans aligned with those published by other (unnamed) countries. [In its own statement, automotive castings business Grainger & Worrall mentions that France has announced similar plans] But BVRLA was more interested in the short term. Keaney said: “It is what the government does in the short term to kick-start the transition and maintain its momentum that really matters.” He concluded: “With so many unanswered questions about charging infrastructure, grid capacity and the affordability and availability of electric vehicles, we need a clearer roadmap on the government’s 2040 vision.”
As for enabling technologies, Teletrac Navman pointed out that there are measures that can be taken to meet compliance standards and help reduce emissions through the implementation of telematics technology, helping to reduce fuel consumption through route optimisation and software which can monitor maintenance needs.
Mobile telematics vendor Telogis argued that implementing route planning software can provide cash for fleets to invest in low- or zero-emission vehicles. It said that such software can reduce mileage by 20%, driver hours by almost a quarter and reduce vehicle idle time, cutting fuel bills.
In contrast to the general tone, bioenergy producer Clearfleau was, understandably, upbeat. Marketing director Richard Gueterbock said: “We’re very encouraged that the government has decided on a total ban of petrol and diesel vehicles from 2040. This should force industry to develop lower emission alternative fuels.”
Dearman, a developer of liquid nitrogen-based refrigeration systems, pointed out that government should also consider the environmental effect of the 84,000 diesel transport refrigeration units currently operating. It argued that they should be phased out over the next five years.