Monday, February 12, 2018

London Mayor Under Fire From Road Haulage Freight Lobby As Consultation Draws Criticism

All Want Cleaner Air but Uncoordinated Approach Engenders Adverse Comments
Shipping News Feature
UK – London Mayor, Sadiq Kahn, is now proposing to extend the already swingeing changes to air quality controls as set under his Toxicity Charge (T-Charge), and being replaced on April 8 by the city's Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), with even more regulation, doubtless to the chagrin of road haulage freight operators.

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) described in December how it awaited ‘with some trepidation’ the latest proposals, in a piece which outlined all the proposed costs for permits and penalties for non-compliance. The consultation launched at the time will close on 28 February 2018 and the Mayor’s latest proposals, having already been brought forward by 17 months to include expanding the ULEZ, include extending the incoming tighter emissions standards to the whole of London for lorries, buses and other heavy goods vehicles in 2020.

Car, van, minibus and motorcycles will see the ULEZ expanded in 2021 up to the North and South circular roads. The Mayor has already been harshly criticised in the past fortnight by the Freight Transport Association (FTA) which claimed hundreds of cleaner trucks would be on London’s roads now, if it were not for uncertainty over his plans for a Direct Vision Standard (DVS), which aims to improve the safety of heavy goods vehicles operating in the capital.

The FTA says the length of time it is taking to finalise the qualification levels for the DVS, alongside an unrealistic schedule for its implementation, are causing frustration and confusion for logistics operators, which are being forced to postpone the procurement of new, cleaner vehicles because they may not be eligible for use in London in the years ahead.

The freight lobbying group, which represents stakeholders spanning the entire logistics sector, says the two schemes, ULEZ and DVS should see a coordinated approach, with London based hauliers we spoke to saying this should be the case, instead of policies which are disjointed and produced on a whim with no consideration for the realities of managing a transport business in the real commercial world. Natalie Chapman, FTA’s Head of Urban Policy, argued:

“The Mayor has scored a spectacular own goal with DVS. FTA, along with everyone living and working in London, wants to see an improvement in the city’s air quality, but this could have happened faster if the new DVS had been better planned. FTA’s submission to the latest consultation on the scheme provides evidence that truck owners and operators are delaying procurement of the cleanest Euro VI vehicles, because they have no idea whether they’ll meet the requirements of the DVS.

“FTA members support Sadiq Khan’s aspiration to reduce the number of injuries and deaths caused by heavy goods vehicles on London’s roads, but any road safety scheme involving new vehicles needs to be carefully planned to avoid disrupting supplies to the capital and requires the support and cooperation of all road users.

“HGVs form the backbone of the capital’s logistics system transporting everything the city needs, from food and medical supplies to building materials and waste recycling. The Mayor should be doing everything he can to help responsible operators buy the cleanest and safest vehicles.”