Commercial vehicle industry bodies have warned that proposed London-style congestion charging for high-polluting vehicles could harm businesses that depend on truck movements.

Clean Air Zones (CAZs), which see high-emission vehicles charged to enter a prescribed area, are being mooted as potential solutions to the issue of air pollution.

However, the Freight Transport Association (FTA), British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) and Road Haulage Association (RHA) have penned a letter to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, asking the government to ensure that businesses are not unfairly penalised by the CAZs.

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According to the three organisations, the proposed charge for all trucks other than the most modern Euro VI models is typically around £100 a day, which would increase daily running costs by 25 percent.

This, the group has said, will mean small businesses that can ill afford the newest vehicles will be the hardest hit, with potential knock-on effects on their ability to trade.

RHA chief executive Richard Burnett said the approach of charging trucks to enter CAZs would ‘do little to improve air quality where improvement is needed’.

‘This discriminates against smaller hauliers with specialised lorries, and those businesses that have no alternative but to enter the zones with Euro V and older vehicles,’ he said. ‘We want to see a smarter approach – one that focusses only on the oldest vehicles and only in those places where there are recognised problems.’

The FTA’s head of UK policy, Christopher Snelling added: ‘We support the need to improve the quality of our air in the cities, but given CAZs only bring forward the beneficial change that is coming anyway by a couple of years, we don’t want this to be at the cost of small businesses’ ability to trade.’