A new dawn

17 October 2018

Tackling climate change and city pollution is a key government priority, so this year has seen the arrival or advancement of many schemes designed to reduce the environmental impact of the logistics industry, says Christopher Snelling, Head of UK Policy, Freight Transport Association (FTA).

These schemes include the introduction of Clean Air Zones (CAZ), Ultra Low Emission Zones and the Road to Zero strategy. With more than 40 UK towns and cities currently exceeding air pollution limits, reducing vehicle emissions in highly populated areas has become a defining government initiative this year and this will continue to be a policy priority into 2019 and beyond. While the introduction of CAZs is a much-needed nationwide initiative, FTA – the only business group representing all of UK logistics – has serious concerns over the effect on local businesses and freight operators if the plans are poorly considered or lack consistency. Logistics operators need clarity on the proposed changes, yet the situation is still confused.   

CAZs impose a charge on any vehicle entering an applicable city which does not meet the emissions standards set by the European Union, which are Euro VI for diesel and Euro V for petrol vehicles. All new vehicles produced in the UK must meet these standards – which include a plethora of environmentally-friendly features. Five cities have been mandated by the government to introduce a CAZ – Derby, Nottingham, Birmingham, Southampton and Leeds –  and it is expected many others will follow. 

While FTA is committed to reducing the carbon footprint of the logistics industry, it has been campaigning relentlessly to ensure the proposed schemes do not stifle local businesses or regional economic growth, and place unsustainable burdens on freight operators. 

For example, the area specified for the Southampton CAZ is larger than the logistics industry originally anticipated. With an estimated 7,400 businesses across the city, it will bring thousands of companies and operations into its scope unnecessarily and, as operating costs soar, businesses may be forced out of the city into more affordable areas, away from key customers or business hubs. The bustling port of Southampton will also be included in the zone, once again posing a serious threat to the city’s economic vibrancy and future growth potential. 

The picture across the CAZs is fragmented and complex, with zones of different sizes, start dates, charges and vehicles included. And with schemes coming into effect from 2019, it leaves little time for operators to upgrade their fleets. FTA has been campaigning for harmonisation of the zones to help make compliance more achievable for businesses in such a limited time.

The picture becomes even more complex when we consider the introduction of an Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in London, due to come into effect in April 2019. This will replace the current T-charge and will cover the same area as the Congestion Charging Zone. Like CAZs, these zones will only allow vehicles meeting environmentally friendly standards – Euro VI/6 for diesel, Euro IV/4 for petrol, and Euro 3 for motorbikes – to enter free of charge.  The daily fees for unpermitted vehicles are set at £100 for HGVs, coaches and buses and £12.50 for vans, minibuses, cars and motorcycles.

At the 2018 series of FTA’s annual autumn Transport Manager conferences, CAZs and ULEZs were key focuses and discussion points. FTA’s policy experts shared their insights into each city’s proposals and outlined the government’s future plans, which included the introduction of several more CAZs. Following a record number of attendees, Transport Manager will return in 2019 for its 21st edition, to once again tackle the most pressing challenges and opportunities facing the sector.

To keep up to date with FTA’s events, please visit the website

CAZs and ULEZs represent just two government strategies to reduce pollution and vehicle emissions. In its Road to Zero document, it set out the aim of reducing vehicle emissions overall by 15% by 2025, an initiative fully supported by FTA. All sectors of society need to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to avoid the worst effects of climate change, and HGVs and their operators must play their part in this. The industry has already begun to alter its behaviour, with alternative fuels becoming increasingly popular. But the government must invest in suitable infrastructure – such as frequent charging stations for electric vehicles – to empower businesses to reach these emission reduction targets in a timely manner.

The Logistics Emission Reduction Scheme (LERS), which FTA provides free of charge to the whole industry to help operators reduce emissions, has adopted the government’s target, building on its existing achievement of a 7% reduction in its members’ emissions by 2015 compared to 2010.  The scheme aggregates its member’s fuel usage and business activity data to establish a carbon footprint and has been successfully demonstrating industries ability to improve emissions on its own without further government regulation. LERS supports its members by providing guidance on carbon reducing measures, regular policy updates and valuable information on reducing fuel costs.

Membership is free and open to all companies with at least one commercial vehicle. For more information, or to join the scheme, please visit

In 2019, FTA will continue to campaign on behalf of its members on key issues including Brexit, fuel prices, road infrastructure and environmentally friendly initiatives. While there are many challenging roads ahead, FTA is confident 2019 will be a year of progress and opportunity. 

Efficient logistics is vital to keep Britain trading, directly having an impact on more than seven million people employed in the making, selling and moving of goods.  With Brexit, new technology and other disruptive forces driving change in the way goods move across borders and through the supply chain, logistics has never been more important to UK plc. A champion and challenger, FTA speaks to Government with one voice on behalf of the whole sector, with members from the road, rail, sea and air industries, as well as the buyers of freight services such as retailers and manufacturers.