The Freight Transport Association (FTA) says the Government must come up with new incentives and approaches to improve air quality following today’s decision by the High Court that its clean air strategy does not meet legal requirements.
Environmental campaign group ClientEarth took the Government to the Supreme Court in April 2015, when ministers were instructed to come up with new proposals to comply with EU laws on limits for nitrogen dioxide in the air. ClientEarth said the new Air Quality Plan didn’t go far enough – and today the High Court agreed.
The Government now has a week to draw up another plan before returning to court, where a High Court judge could impose a timetable if the new proposals are not deemed sufficient.
FTA’s Head of National and Regional Policy Christopher Snelling said “No-one questions the need for better air quality in order to improve people’s health but placing an unfair burden on the freight industry isn’t the answer.
“The current Defra plan already sets in place targets in cities across the UK that will cost industry millions and could force small businesses out of their markets. This is especially true for those relying on vans because there simply won’t be enough compliant vehicles to satisfy the need.”
FTA says current air quality proposals already push beyond what many businesses can cope with. If UK cities are to make faster progress on meeting air quality targets, wider approaches and more meaningful support from the Government are needed.
Mr Snelling added: “If faster progress in commercial vehicle fleet renewal and a switch to alternative fuel is to be made, it will have to be on the basis of support from the Government. But we can’t just consider commercial vehicles. The regulations Defra is looking at may have to take a broader approach to road transport, not shying away from issues such as the contribution of cars just because it is unpopular with voters.
“We know that, unlike cars, Euro VI HGVs are meeting their emissions limits. So as newer vehicles populate the fleet, the contribution from lorries will massively reduce anyway. Further regulation of HGVs will only produce a very short blip of emissions reduction, at a massive cost to industry, especially small businesses.”