Leeds CAZ grants hit legal issue

A second round of funding is to be launched by Leeds City Council after hauliers were found to be ineligible for clean air zone (CAZ) grants.

Funds of up to £16,000 were on offer so hauliers operating from or within Leeds could ‘upgrade or retrofit’ their vehicles. Hauliers were invited to apply for these grants in March 2018.

However, in an article published by Motor Transport, it was revealed Leeds City Council’s Clean Air team wrote to haulage applicants last week, stating they are “ineligible for funding approval in this round of grant funding”.

They confirmed that: “where a company operates road freight transport for hire or reward it is not lawfully permitted to provide state aid under the de minimis provision for the purchase of new vehicles.”

The CAZ team explained that before the application process was launched, State Aid Legal advice reportedly hadn’t outlined specific restrictions on issuing funds to road freight transport for hire or reward operators.

But then, during the evaluation process, the council found legal constraints related to State Aid which prevented the lawful issue of funds. So, commercial road hauliers couldn’t be given grants. Funding from this first round has been allocated to restricted licence holders.

In their email to hauliers, the Clean Air Team said: “The council has sought further legal advice to identify a way to support the Road Freight Transport for Hire or Reward operators that will be state aid compliant and as a result is able to run a second funding process”.

Leeds City Council announced this week the second funding round will open on 1 August with approximately £8.9m worth of grants on the table.

But the RHA has another issue with the council’s scheme. Grants might be made available for retrofitting, but these technologies do not currently exist for HGVs (except for bin lorries).

Rhys Williams RHA Regional Operations Manager for Midlands and Western said, “The problem with them publishing figures like this, is that it gives a false outlook. The unknowing public will think HGV’s have been and can be retrofitted, while we all know it’s only refuse collection vehicles that have that option.”

No firm launch date has yet been set for Leeds CAZ. Due to cover more than half the city, the CAZ will affect older HGVs, coaches, busses, taxis and private hire vehicles. Pre-Euro 6 HGVs will be charged £50 a day to enter.

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