Today is National Clean Air Day and organisations, schools and communities across the UK will be taking part in a range of activities to raise awareness of, and galvanise support for, initiatives to improve air quality.
For the BVRLA, whose members are responsible for almost 5 million vehicles on UK roads, that’s 1-in-8 cars, 1-in-5 vans and 1-in-5 trucks, the issue of air quality is in the spotlight every day.
As a key policy area forming an important part of the association’s work, BVRLA Chief Executive Gerry Keaney explains what the association has been doing this year to help tackle this important issue:
“BVRLA members are determined to be part of the solution in improving air quality and as an association we are working with Government and local authorities to ensure that future Clean Air Zones are implemented in a way that does not unfairly punish drivers or damage small businesses and the local economy.
“We have been hosting a series of air quality roundtables in five cities earmarked for Clean Air Zones, bringing together members, policymakers and others operating across the sector. The recent announcement from Leeds City Council, who have since revised their CAZ plans to lessen the impact on business, is evidence that our voice is being heard. Next week we will be in Glasgow to discuss plans for their Low Emission Zone.
“We have also been proactive with our engagement with Government, responding to consultations, writing to Secretaries of State and meeting with ministers and senior officials to make sure that our concerns and recommendations are known.
“By working effectively together, we can realise Government’s air quality ambitions, so we are calling for:
• The introduction of Mobility Credits
• A more joined up approach from Government when it comes to taxation and environmental policies
• A tax regime that encourages, not discourages the uptake of cleaner vehicles
• Restricted use of CAZ, introducing them only where necessary
• Consistent approach to signage, charging and enforcement
• A ‘sunset clause’ for SMEs to give them sufficient time to adapt
• More support for HGV operators who face particular cost and operational challenges in upgrading their fleets
“Our members invest significant sums each year into purchasing new vehicles and are keen to use this power to rapidly increase the number of Ultra Low Emission Vehicles on UK’s roads. Electric vehicles and hybrids are responsible for almost 10% of new lease cars registered by our members, and our latest Leasing Survey shows that average CO2 emissions of members’ new car registrations stood at 112g/km, 9% lower than the national average for all new cars.
“Most of these vehicles are company cars and the Government can support the vital contribution from this sector by aligning the tax regime more closely with its environmental policies. The Company Car Tax system is crucial to incentivising the right vehicle choice and we continue to call upon the Chancellor to accelerate the introduction of the 2% band for zero-emission vehicles. The current tax band for these cars is currently scheduled to increase to 16% in 2019/20, before dropping to 2% the year after. This doesn’t offer any incentive at all for people looking to choose an electric vehicle this year or next.”