A MAJOR industry body has slammed a proposed congestion charge for Coventry motorists which it says would hit smaller businesses hardest.
The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has called on the government and Coventry City Council to urgently explore alternative measures.
As we have reported, the government has issued a legal ‘directive’ that the council must introduce the charge for older and more polluting vehicles using streets within a city boundary.
The government claims it would cut spiralling city emissions significantly ‘in the shortest possible time’. It is strongly opposed by the council.
The FTA is one of the largest trade associations in the UK, with its members transporting goods by road, rail, sea, and air.
Its head of urban policy Natalie Chapman told us: “FTA is determined to ensure the logistics industry plays its part in improving the air quality in our towns and cities.
“But any scheme must be designed to reap the greatest benefits in air quality, without penalising local businesses.
“We understand the government has directed Coventry City Council to introduce a charging Clean Air Zone, but these schemes hit hardest the businesses and people who can least afford to change their vehicles.
“And as Euro VI/6 vehicles will enter the vehicle fleet of their own accord as part of the natural fleet replacement cycle, the benefits of a Clean Air Zone will be short-lived.
“Instead, we believe other measures, such as enabling deliveries to be retimed and supporting businesses to adopt electric and alternatively fuelled vehicles, will deliver far greater benefits in the long run, without damaging the local economy.”
The council on June 14 submitted its modeling to government in a bid to avoid the imposition of the charging ‘Clean Air Zone’.
Council chiefs told us earlier this month the wait for the government’s decision could go on beyond the end of August at the earliest.
The government is now threatening to force on Coventry the most severe ‘class D’ zone.
A class D ‘Birmingham-style’ charge system would mean older and more polluting cars, buses, coaches, taxis and vans would have to pay potentially £8 a day.
The measure has been opposed steadfastly on all fronts in the city, prompting opposition from Labour, the Tories, the Greens and the Socialist Party.
A petition by ex-city MP, Socialist party leader and trade unionist Dave Nellist against the charge has now reached more than 8,200 signatures, he says.