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01 August 2007

Six months until London Mayor's pollution plan hits hauliers

Reference number: PR 2007 46

FSB News Release

PR/2007/46

Issue date:  Wednesday 1 August 2007

Six months until London Mayor''s pollution plan hits hauliers

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has called on the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, to make greater efforts to publicise his plans for a Low Emission Zone (LEZ) in the capital.  The plans will hit hauliers and business vehicles across the UK because over 50% travel through London at least once a year.  The launch of the low emission zone (LEZ) is exactly six months away, with a start date of February 1 2008.

The LEZ would impose daily charges of between £100 and £200 on heavy goods vehicles that emit certain levels of pollution after 2008. The penalties for failing to pay will be as high as £1,000.

The FSB does not believe that Transport for London (TfL) has consulted sufficiently with businesses.  There are approximately 103,000 Operator Licence holders in the UK but TfL has heard from fewer than 5% of them in consultations.  This leaves the vast majority of haulage firms potentially unaware of the scheme.

The proposals are complicated by having several start times for different types of vehicle.  The first set of vehicles will be hit from January 2008.  The FSB feels that with only six months left until the LEZ is imposed there needs to be a much greater effort on publicity from TfL or not all firms will be able to make the necessary changes to their vehicles in time.  This could lead to a perception forming that the LEZ is a stealth tax rather than an attempt to tackle pollution in the capital.

Chris Glen, FSB Transport Chairman, said:

“The FSB fully supports the aim of the Mayor to reduce pollution in London.  However, there is a great danger that many hauliers will be unaware of this scheme and will get caught out because of a lack of information from Mr Livingstone''s office.

“This would be a real shame because hauliers would see it as nothing more than another stealth tax if they feel that they have been tricked into paying fines.  It would turn a laudable aim, to reduce harmful pollution, into a cynical grab for cash from businesses.

“Transport for London has to raise its game now to ensure everyone is aware of this plan.  It will take time for some hauliers to get their vehicles prepared for the Low Emission Zone.  Therefore, this final six months should be used to make those changes.  But that will not be possible if the Mayor of London keeps quiet about the scheme.”

ENDS