Fleet organisations representing the users of millions of cars, vans and trucks came together on 25th January to discuss the proposed Leeds Clean Air Zone (CAZ) at a roundtable event, jointly hosted by the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association ("BVRLA"), Energy Saving Trust and Leeds City Council. Also present were the Association of Car Fleet Operators, Fleet News and a number of national and regional fleet operators.
The roundtable was the first of a number organised in cities across the UK that are planning Clean Air Zones as part of tackling poor local air quality.
Gerry Keaney, Chief Executive of the BVRLA, said, “Leeds Clean Air Zone will be a major development in the history and development of the local area. It will affect hundreds of thousands of people not just in Leeds but across the region, together with tens of thousands of businesses. It’s vital that the development of the CAZ is based on wide consultation to maximise its effectiveness and not have an adverse impact on the wider economy and people’s quality of life”.
Local and City authorities identified as having severe air quality issues are required to submit plans for their CAZs to central government by March this year. The government has set out criteria around which types of vehicles can be charged to access the CAZ. The Leeds City Council example opts to charge lorries and taxis for access, unless they meet the higher Euro VI emission standards.
To coincide with the Leeds event, the BVRLA has published a new factsheet outlining its proposals for what it described as a feet-friendly air quality policy. As well as highlighting the clean air credentials of the vehicle rental, leasing and car club sectors, the document also urges policymakers to focus on certain priorities when considering Clean Air Zones and other air quality measures. These mesures include Providing a managed transition for businesses and individuals (with attention being given to those that cannot afford to upgrade their vehicles) and Ensuring that Clean Air Zones are a catalyst for behaviour change, with local residents and businesses should be encouraged and incentivised to consider more sustainable vehicles or modes of transport.
Gerry Keaney went on to add, “It is vital that clean air zones and other air quality measures are not just seen as a punitive stealth tax or piece of red tape. We all want to see fewer, cleaner vehicles used in cities, and the best chance of delivering this new vision of urban mobility will come from working together.”
Andrew Benfield, Group Director of Transport at the Energy Saving, said, “Fleets are an important audience and working with the BVRLA means that we can influence a significant market of vehicles that are leased and rented in large numbers. Although most leased and rental vehicles are the most modern and clean, it’s important to be challenging and supportive of fleet operators through their vehicle choice process."
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