Fleets call for clarity on Clean Air Zones

By Mercedes-Benz Vans UK
Published: 7 December 2017

New research from Mercedes-Benz Vans UK suggested confusion and concern was rife among businesses over environmental policy on the anniversary of the ‘Great Smog’- Tuesday (5 December, 2018) marked 65 years since the Great Smog of London – the worst air pollution event in UK history.

That landmark event led directly to the revolutionary Clean Air Act 1956, radically reducing dangerous pollution across the nation.

Government research at the time estimated the smog caused some 4,000 deaths and 100,000 people were made ill as a result, though more recent research suggests the figures could be even higher – and the repercussions were seen as a landmark moment in the development of a vital legal framework to protect the environment.

But the very latest environmental legislation – a pledge to create Clean Air Zones in major cities across the UK within two years – is leaving key road-users confused and concerned about what they mean and how they will work, according to the Mercedes-Benz Vans Business Barometer.

In the summer the government announced as part of its Clean Air Strategy that the first five Clean Air Zones would be in place by the end of 2019 in Birmingham, Leeds, Nottingham, Derby and Southampton, but the new Mercedes-Benz Vans research suggested that businesses and drivers most likely to be impacted remained ‘in the dark’ about the plans.

In fact, one in five van drivers, owners and operators claim to have not heard about the proposed Clean Air Zones, while 41% said they feared they could have a negative impact on their business.

The data showed that 78% of van drivers, owners and operators wanted more clarity on what the charging and emissions criteria of the proposed Clean Air Zones would be.

Meanwhile, just 6% of all van drivers, owners and operators were aware that Derby was one of the proposed five cities where roll-out would begin pre-2020, and just 7% could name Southampton as another of the first cities to have a Clean Air Zone.

Steve Bridge, managing director, Mercedes-Benz Vans UK, said: “It speaks volumes that business owners and van operators don’t see clearly when it comes to clean air; the communication about this topic simply hasn’t reached this important section of industry.

“Clean Air Zones undoubtedly have a positive impact on the environment and our health, but equally, business owners need to know the impact these Zones will have on them too – forewarned is forearmed so they can prepare accordingly. To not have clear plans in place that are communicated effectively is doing a disservice to the hardworking business community.”

The Business Barometer is an independent sample of 2,000 van drivers, owners, operators and fleet managers who share their views about their business growth expectations, career goals, challenges and barriers to growth that they face.