Government to “Potentially” Introduce National Charging Infrastructure for Clean Air Zones

The introduction of low emission and clean air zones across the UK has been a contentious issue for some time. Hauliers have once again been targeted as part of efforts to reduce the environmental impact of transport in cities, despite the fact that modern Euro 6 vehicles are amongst the greenest on the road.

With cities throughout the UK being set clean air targets, many have looked to introduce schemes, but these often differ from one another, creating a multiplicity of clean air zone charges. Allowed to continue, this would create a nightmare scenario for hauliers and transport operators running vehicles in urban environments. Each city visited could potentially have different rules, regulations and charges. Certainly not a simple thing to manage.

In a rare moment of non-Brexit discussion, Kirstene Hair, MP for Angus, questioned the impact of this issue for motorists and businesses. Speaking in the House of Commons, she said, “I am slightly concerned that with the roll out of low emission zones across the country we are going to come across problems whereby motorists, hauliers and delivery drivers have to comply with different regulations in whatever city that they come to.”

Transport Minister Jesse Norman in responding then revealed that a national scheme is under consideration, saying, “We have been talking to the different industry organisations about this issue. There is obviously a concern that there may be a patchwork of permits between different cities.

“It is not clear what exactly each city is going to implement in each case, by way of a zone and we are working very closely to see if we can minimise any disruption and create a, potentially, national charging infrastructure.”

It remains to be seen whether a national charging scheme will come to fruition, but such an initiative will be challenging to implement given so many cities across the UK have implemented clean air zones and charging schemes, or have plans to do so in the near future.