One of the biggest discussions in recent years has been the proposed Ultra Low Emission Zones within London and clean air zones, it’s a topic that stimulates contradicting opinions from people throughout all areas of the United Kingdom. It should be recognised early that we all want cleaner air, a reduction in the amount of air pollution is long overdue but are we attempting to tackle this problem in the correct way? Among the strong views people express about this subject are those who believe Mayor Sadiq Khan is making life extremely difficult for businesses within London whether he realises it or not. However, it is important to stress that there are also a lot of people who believe in the decisions that he is making.
Euro IV lorries are currently among the cleanest lorries that operators can have within their fleet, these meet the low emission standards so companies do not incur extra charges. I have no doubt that all companies would love to have a fleet of Euro IV vehicles but for some it is not achievable due to the price barrier. This means they have a decision to make, do they accept the extra daily charges or potentially reduce their fleet to upgrade vehicles?
The alternative solution for operators that cannot afford to upgrade their fleet is to increase the cost of their services or produce, thus passing the extra charges onto retailers and then consumers. The extra charges passed on by distributers and manufacturers because of ULEZ means the cost of living will automatically increase, even further as these higher prices will be passed onto consumers within London.
The impact on the economy could be huge, some long-standing shops within London that make their trade on small margins may not be able to survive a hike in prices. The are multiple worries for shopkeepers, consumers are not prepared to meet a higher price for their products, or alternatively companies stop making deliveries in London due to the penalty charges leaving shop to fight over limited suppliers.
London is clearly gearing up for a lot of uncertainty over the coming years, the truth is no one really knows what effect these changes will have on small businesses and whether the majority of them will survive or not. However, some form of scrappage scheme or grant may help to ease the burden on fleet operators. There is also rapid progression required from manufacturers to make a plausible alternative fuel solution, currently there are no electric lorries available and electric vans struggle to do more than 100 miles on one charge.
Drivers throughout London and other urban areas will need to make sure they are ready for any new introductions of these schemes as it will directly affect them and how they work on a daily basis. They may in the near future be driving an alternative fuel vehicle that they have never operated before.