Haulage firms are set to receive tax breaks for operating the cleanest trucks under new rules drawn up to improve air quality.

From February 2019, vehicles that meet the EU’s latest nitrogen oxide emissions standard, which is known as Euro VI, will be eligible for a 10 percent reduction in road tax. Those that fail to meet the Euro VI standard, however, will see 20 percent added to their tax bill.

According to the government, heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) only account for five percent of miles covered in the UK, but they produce around 20 percent of the total nitrogen oxide emissions.

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Roads minister Jesse Norman said the legislation was designed to encourage firms to use the latest trucks, which produce 80 percent less nitrogen oxide.

‘This government is committed to improving the air we breathe and delivering a green revolution in transport,’ he said. ‘We’re changing the HGV levy to encourage firms to phase out the most polluting lorries and bring in the cleanest ones.’

However, the Freight Transport Association (FTA), says that although the tax relief for the cleanest vehicles is welcome, the extra taxation on older vehicles is an ‘unfair hit’ for smaller operators.

‘The reduction of 10% in the road user levy for Euro VI lorries is good news, as it shows recognition for the success of the HGV Euro VI vehicles, which have 80 percent lower real-world local emissions than previous lorries,’ said Christopher Snelling, the FTA’s head of UK policy.

‘However, the introduction of the increased levy on pre-Euro VI trucks will actually hurt small- and medium-sized business. It hurts them because the re-sale value of their slightly older lorries – the Euro IV and Vs – has fallen so much, making the jump to afford a new Euro VI [vehicle] so much greater.’