Construction firms in the dark over clean air zones

Grant Prior 3 months ago
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Almost a third of construction firms which use vans for work are not aware about plans for Clean Air Zones across the country.

It is less than two years before they could be charged to drive into major cities as councils in Birmingham, Leeds, Derby, and Southampton are finalising plans for CAZs.

But a new survey of 677 businesses which use vans, carried out by independent agency IFF Research, shows:

  • 31% of construction firms do not know about the initiative
  • Of those who were aware, (59%) say the move will affect their businesses, in a survey of 677 businesses which use vans, carried out by independent agency, IFF Research.

The market survey was commissioned by Northgate Vehicle Hire – the largest van rental company in the UK.

Northgate runs around 29,000 vans which are compliant with Euro VI – the highest new standard for vehicle emissions set by the European Commission.

These vans would not be charged to enter new CAZ zones, or existing emissions zones, such as LEZ.

Tim Bailey, Fleet Director of Northgate Vehicle Hire, said: “Vans are critical to the construction trades, so it is worrying that many in industry are not aware of these changes, less than two years before CAZs are due to start.

“Van drivers are facing a perfect storm. Around 99% of vans still run on diesel, which is being hit by increasing fuel prices and taxes.

“Yet for many businesses, new technologies such as electric vehicles just are not ready to meet their needs – seen as unaffordable, or incapable of covering sufficient distances between charges.”

“Construction margins continue to be squeezed and we are already seeing drivers swap van ownership for rental in order to acquire compliant vehicles quickly, and avoid paying CAZ charges altogether,” added Bailey.

“While we support efforts to reduce emissions, we believe that Government needs to find a balance between tackling emissions while supporting Vankind.

“That means not only charging people for driving older vans, but also incentivising people to acquire alternatives, and investing in public transport.”

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