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Finance worries for commercial vehicle fleets as deadline approaches for Leeds Clean Air Zone launch

Leeds panorama

The British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) has warned that many commercial vehicle operators may not have enough time or money to upgrade their fleets before the introduction of a new Leeds Clean Air Zone (CAZ).

The CAZ is set to arrive in the UK’s third biggest city in January 2020 as part of government plans to reduce pollution in key cities.

Leeds City Council is the first authority to have its CAZ plans approved by government, including a charge of £50 a day for trucks to enter the city if they don’t meet Euro VI emission standards.

CAZs must also be introduced in Birmingham, Nottingham, Derby and Southampton by 2020, although other local authority strategies may not include pollution charges.

The government has pledged more than £29 million in funding for the council to implement the zone, and to support any businesses affected.

Leeds City Council has stated that £13.8 million will be made available as grants of up to £16,000 per affected HGV, subject to a ‘funding competition’.

Applications are expected to open towards the end of March and grants can be used for either retrofitting or to help fund the purchasing of a new vehicle.

Gerry Keaney, BVRLA chief executive, said: “Around half of the UK truck fleet is currently non-compliant with the CAZ standards, so we are pleased to see that Leeds City Council will be providing support to HGV operators.

“With less than a year to go until the new charging zone comes in, small businesses will need all the help they can get as they will be hardest hit by charges. With a typical rigid 18-tonne truck costing £40,000, many companies are going to face massive costs in upgrading their fleets.

“We would like to see more cities following in the footsteps of Nottingham, whose air quality measures are set to reach targets without the introduction of charging zones.”

Council leaders in Leeds say they recognise that some businesses face a difficult period of transition and point out that the local authority will not make money from imposing charges.

James Lewis, executive councillor on the Leeds City Council, said: “Businesses that are likely to be affected need to look at the vehicles they operate and begin their final preparations for the introduction of the zone.

“We have not received the full amount of funding that we asked the government for, however, we are pleased to confirm that a number of significant financial support packages will be available to assist owners of affected vehicles. We will be working hard to make sure this money is available swiftly.”

In addition to compulsory CAZ’s ordered by the government, as many as 60 local authorities are considering taking their own measures to reduce road pollution.

The BVRLA has developed an interactive map to help companies and fleets adapt their strategies to meet the requirements of future clean air requirements in towns and cities throughout the UK.

View the BVRLA UK Clean Air Zone map.

Leeds Clean Air Zone charges

Vehicle type Daily charge for non-compliant vehicles driving within the zone
Heavy goods vehicle (HGV) £50
Bus £50
Coach £50
Taxi £12.50(or £50 a week for Leeds-licensed vehicles)
Private Hire £12.50(or £50 a week for Leeds-licensed vehicles)
Private cars, light goods vehicle (LGV), vans, motorcycles and any other vehicle No charge

Source: Leeds City Council