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Oxford zero emission zone taxes vital vehicles

Jan 09, 2020
Plans for a Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ) in Oxford, published in January 2020, are effectively a tax on trucks and vans in areas of the city, according to the Freight Transport Association (FTA).

The business organisation is calling for Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council to reconsider their strategy until zero-emission commercial vehicles become a viable alternative for local businesses.

Rebecca Kite, Environment Policy Manager at FTA, commented: “As the voice of the UK logistics sector, FTA is calling for Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council to reconsider their plans to restrict non-zero emission commercial vehicles operating within areas of the city. It is simply too soon to implement such a punitive scheme; there are currently no zero-emission trucks on the market, and very limited options for vans. And without a workable definition for an Ultra-Low Emission Truck – something FTA is working with the government to develop – the scheme is effectively a tax on essential freight vehicles.”

“Businesses within the logistics sector are determined to play their part in improving air quality; a recent study by FTA showed they are investing heavily in alternatively-fuelled vehicles. But until the market for zero-emission trucks and vans has fully developed – and they become a viable option for business of all sizes – FTA is strongly advising the councils to delay including commercial vehicles in the ZEZ. The government and local councils should instead, in the view of FTA, focus on supporting and developing the alternatively-fuelled vehicle market.”

Ms Kite continued: “The local economy cannot survive without products and services, all of which are delivered to the area by goods vehicles such as vans and HGVs. As it stands, the ZEZ is simply a tax on the companies working hard to deliver the goods and services needed by the residents and businesses of Oxford.”

Meanwhile, the Road Haulage Association (RHA) has branded the proposals as absurd and that charging trucks to enter the zone will put transport firms at risk.

RHA Chief Executive, Richard Burnett said, “If council chiefs are serious about slashing emissions, they need to focus on improving road infrastructure. Current plans mean that consumers will face higher prices in the shops as hard-pressed firms have no choice but to pass on the extra costs.”

“Imposing a scheme where even the cleanest, Euro VI trucks will be hit with charges is absurd. The councils have offered no evidence to show how these measures will improve air quality so we can only conclude this is all about showcasing their green credentials instead of making the tough choices to tackle emissions."

“These are poorly conceived ideas which will leave Oxford’s communities footing the bill with price hikes in the high street if they go ahead.”


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