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OXFORD City Council and Oxfordshire County Council have announced an update to Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ) plans. The new city centre Zone will allow ultra-low emission cars that are capable of being zero emission while in the Zone, but in effect would not allow the same flexibility for vans or lorries as equivalent vehicles cannot meet the car-based requirement.

Rebecca Kite, the Freight Transport Associations’s Environment Policy Manager, said: “There are an array of hybrid vans and lorries becoming available that will be zero emission capable while in this urban environment.

“These vehicles would also form a bridging technology to encourage the use of battery technology in heavier vehicles, paving the way for full electrification. Vans are over twice as heavy as cars and mid-sized lorries are 20 times heavier.

“One car usually carries just one person; a van can carry a tonne of goods and a medium sized HGV can carry 10 tonnes.  They cannot be judged in the same way.  Fully electric lorries are many years away; excluding zero emission capable vehicles will be missing a massive opportunity for local pollutant and greenhouse gas emission reduction”

The proposal defines ultra-low emission vehicles as any vehicle which emits less than 75g of CO2/km from the tailpipe and is capable of at least 10 miles of zero emission driving.

Kite added “Currently the car definition is the only definition available to them of an ultra-low emission vehicle.  The Department for Transport is currently developing a standard for ultra-low emission trucks, but the same work is required to vans.

There needs to be a vehicle appropriate ULEV standard, which is agreed nationally before Local Authorities implement any ultra-low emission requirements.

“The Councils are planning to hold discussions with stakeholders on the new proposal; FTA will feedback its concerns in the hope they will plan to accept future definitions of ultra-low emission trucks and vans.”

The BVRLA said that commercial vehicle operators will not have enough time or money to upgrade their fleets ready for the introduction of the new Clean Air Zones (CAZ).

The BVRLA issued the warning as Leeds City Council became the first authority to have its charging CAZ plans, arriving in January 2020, approved by government. It will charge non-Euro VI trucks £50 per day to enter parts of the city.

To help businesses affected, government has pledged more than £29 million in funding for the council to implement the zone and support businesses.

BVRLA Chief Executive Gerry Keaney said: “Around half of the UK truck fleet is currently non-compliant with the CAZ standards so we are pleased to see that Leeds City Council will be providing support to HGV operators.

“With less than a year to go until the new charging zone comes in, small businesses will need all the help they can get as they will be hardest hit by charges. Many companies are going to face massive costs in upgrading their fleets.

“We would like to see more cities following in the footsteps of Nottingham, whose air quality measures are set to reach targets without the introduction of charging zones.”

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