The Government needs to rethink its approach on improving air quality, the Road Haulage Association (RHA) has suggested.

The call comes as Leeds and Birmingham City Councils announce that their respective clean air zones (CAZs), set to launch in January 2020, have been ‘significantly postponed’.

In a joint statement the local authorities blame government delays in delivering key digital infrastructure for the postponements. No new dates have been announced.

The councils expected the vehicle checker tool, which is being delivered by the Government’s Joint Air Quality Unit (JAQU), to be ready by October 2019. However, the Unit (jointly run by the Department for Transport (DfT) and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)) has now confirmed that it will not be available until at least December 2019.

RHA chief executive Richard Burnett says the Government is failing to deliver on its own policies and needs to encourage local authorities to look at congestion-easing measures if they are serious about reducing emissions.

“Their delays in getting the technology ready postpones the arrival of enforceable zones in two key cities, but for operators facing the prospect of £50 per day charges it’s a delay, not a reprieve,” he pointed out.

Mr Burnett has insisted that CAZs will prove ineffective if they keep disproportionately targeting trucks whilst ignoring other factors and vehicle types.

Councillor James Lewis, Deputy Leader for Leeds City Council, said: “As planned, we will also begin to install the camera infrastructure required for the zone within the next few weeks. The Government now needs to outline new timescales that they are confident can be delivered in order to give residents and businesses across the country clarity and certainty about the future of these schemes.”

Last reviewed 10 July 2019