The Freight Transport Association (FTA) said that updated plans in Newcastle would “still punish local businesses” while failing to provide the most effective means of improving air quality.
Under the amended plans, HGVs, buses, vans and minibuses entering the proposed zone that fail to meet Euro 6 for diesel or Euro 4 for petrol will face charges once the scheme begins in 2021.
Margaret Simpson, head of policy for Scotland & Northern England at FTA, said: “We urge Newcastle City Council to include private cars in the zone. After all, the logistics sector is the lifeblood of the city, providing businesses, schools and hospitals with the goods they need to operate.
“CAZs do not provide any lasting benefit to air quality, as the Euro 6 vehicles required to enter a zone without charge will come into fleets of their own accord, as part of the natural fleet replacement cycle.
“In fact, by the start of 2021, FTA estimates that more than half of the UK truck fleet will already be Euro 6, meaning the scheme will soon be redundant. In the view of FTA, to secure long-term air quality improvements Newcastle City Council would be better placed to focus its resources on incentivising the uptake of ultra-low emission vehicles.
“We are, however, pleased to see in the new plans that the geographical area has been significantly reduced; this will limit its impact on businesses operating in the area.”
FTA is now encouraging affected parties to respond to a new consultation prior to the council’s submission to government of its final plans in November.
Meanwhile, the Road Haulage Association (RHA) has warned that exemptions to the planned CAZ in Leeds “don’t go far enough”.
Council bosses propose to exempt specialist HGVs if they cannot be upgraded or retrofitted for less than £200,000, operate within the zone for no more than three working hours per day, and fall into the low loader, breakdown truck or special purpose tax classes.
But Chris Ashley, RHA policy advocate for environment and regulation, said members were “disappointed with the largely impractical criteria they’d have to meet to avoid crippling £50 charges”.