The Freight Transport Association (FTA) is equally relieved and concerned following the announcement of the Mayor of London’s plans regarding air quality. Last month, Sadiq Khan outlined plans to crackdown on the highest polluting vehicles entering central London including a £10 charge for the vehicles in question and an extended Ultra-Low Emission Zone.

The proposals marked the 60th anniversary of the Clean Air Act, and Khan wants to take urgent action to reduce the levels of polluted air in London. Recent research has revealed that over 443 schools in the capital are in zones surpassing safe legal pollution levels.

The FTA has expressed concerns that the proposals will create a momentous cost burden for small businesses. The association called for support as well as regulation to help improve the quality of the capital’s air. FTA asked for a temporary discount on the Congestion Charge ahead of the expansion of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone in three years’ time.

Head of National and Regional Policy at FTA Christopher Snelling said “It is sensible that the initial surcharge next year will focus on much older vehicles which are disproportionately polluting – HGVs already work to this standard in London and, whilst it may affect some van operators, it should be manageable.

“However, the ULEZ starting in 2019 and expanding in 2020 will cause significant issues – especially in the van sector where there will only be two-and-a-half to three years’ worth of compliant vehicles in the fleet. Typically, operators who rely on second-hand vehicles buy at four years old so it will place significant cost burdens on them.”

The FTA has estimated the potential cost of the proposals to small businesses. The average small operator with five vans could be faced with £100,000 extra cost upfront, which is almost 150% of the company’s annual turnover.