Don’t repeat disastrous CAZ mistakes, RHA urges Welsh Government

The RHA has urged the Welsh government to recognise the progress the haulage sector has made reducing emissions.

The call comes as officials from the Senedd, the national assembly of Wales, launch an inquiry into air quality.

Chris Ashley, the Association’s head of policy for environment and regulation said that haulage firms have led the way in adopting cleaner air technologies, reducing NOx emissions from trucks by 60 percent since 2013.

He said that this progress could stall if the Welsh Government adopts similar CAZ plans to England’s, where flawed policy making, forcing operators to upgrade trucks prematurely, are putting firms out of business.

Responding to the air quality plans consultation, Ashley said that the Welsh Government should learn from the experience of England, where the Joint Air Quality Unit’s (JAQU) had devised what he said was as an “expensive” and “inflexible” clean air zone framework, with hauliers facing up to £100 daily charges. Even though in six out of ten cases, local authorities are choosing not to impose charges on non-compliant cars.

Ashley called on officials to examine all non-charging options to reduce NOx emissions, pointing to guidance set out in the Welsh Government’s Clean Air Zone framework for Wales (2018).

These include offering training courses on eco-driving, enforcing anti-idling measures, optimising traffic flow, and designing effective smart car-sharing schemes.

Ashley said: “The Welsh Government has an opportunity to design and champion a clean air zone framework which works for all.”

Meanwhile, the RHA has called on DEFRA/DfT to review clean air policies in England. Ashley said that a smarter framework which targeted older, more polluting vehicles across all types, which allowed for different charging levels according to age would be fairer on operators of Euro V trucks, some of which are only eight years into their average 12 year life cycle.

“Poor air quality is a serious environmental risk to public health but the regulatory framework must support the investment lifecycle that hauliers make.”