Last reviewed 17 April 2020

A Minister in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), Rebecca Pow, has written to the Freight Transport Association (FTA) to confirm that the Government is postponing the introduction of all Clean Air Zones (CAZs) until 2021.

The Association’s Head of Urban Policy, Natalie Chapman, said that it had been urging the Government to delay the introduction of CAZs to allow businesses to focus their efforts on keeping goods moving throughout the COVID-19 outbreak (see Hauliers criticise ineffective Clean Air Zones).

“While FTA and its members support fully the Government’s ambition to improve air quality across the UK,” she went on, “to achieve compliance with the schemes businesses would have to undertake significant work and planning.”

With the industry focusing all its attention on ensuring the public, supermarkets and other retailers continue to receive the essential items they need during the pandemic, Ms Chapman argued, logistics businesses simply do not have the resources to dedicate to preparing for the imminent introduction of the zones.

She pointed out that supplies of technology, equipment and trucks are being disrupted by the pandemic, making it harder for businesses to upgrade their fleets to meet the emission standards required by the proposed schemes.

In her letter to the Association, Ms Pow said: “The freight industry is an important part of our response [to the COVID-19 outbreak] and we will keep working with you to ensure you can continue your vital role. We will keep the timetable under review but we expect the introduction of clean air zones to be no earlier than January 2021.”

Leeds, Birmingham and Bath are among the local authorities who were preparing to introduce Zones which will now be put on hold.