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Fleets ‘would pay fines’ not invest for clean air zones

12:20 15 November 2015

Many UK businesses would pay a clear air zone rather than invest in upgrading their fleets, according to research.

Many UK businesses would pay a clear air zone rather than invest in upgrading their fleets, according to research.

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Almost a quarter (23%) of UK businesses would prefer to pay a charge than invest in upgraded fleets to operate in clean air zones.

It was revealed in research by RAC Business after a government consultation into UK-wide zones has ended.

RAC Business has found many UK companies expect to be punished financially by the introduction of schemes such as the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ), set to go live in London progressively from 2018, with cars and light commercial vehicles affected from 2020.

The research with 500 UK businesses, showed 27% run fleets with vehicles that already comply with London’s ULEZ standards. But 23% say it will cost less to accept a charge each time they drive into the zone than to upgrade their vehicles.

Drivers in vehicles subject to charges could pay £12.50 a day for cars and up to £100 a day for heavy goods vehicles. But almost one in 10 (8.5%) say they cannot afford to upgrade their vehicles to avoid the charges, and 5% say they will have to operate their business outside of the ULEZ or areas affected by similar schemes elsewhere.

One in five businesses would expect their leasing firms to supply greener vehicles that comply – Euro 6 for vans and lorries. And, 15% said they would invest in new technology such as electric and hybrid vehicles.

The consultation by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs could give the green light for local authorities in major cities to introduce similar schemes.

The new zones, which may need to go further than the existing low emission zone currently operating in London, could see charges introduced for the most polluting vehicles or, as a last resort, they could even be banned altogether.

RAC Business corporate sales director Jenny Powleys aid: “It may be three years before the first Ultra Low Emission Zone goes live in London and five before cars and light commercial vehicles are affected, but the results of our research suggest there is still a lot of work to be done to ensure businesses are ready for the changes that could be mirrored across the country.

“It’s a false economy to think you might save money by not ensuring your fleet is ready, but we can see that smaller businesses in particular will have concerns about the cost implication.”

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