The government is set to introduce clean air zones into the UK by April 2019. They are starting with major cities such as Bristol, Southampton, Birmingham and Manchester. This is following the latest reports detailing the air pollution and levels of roadside NOx emissions in cities and to help tackle the problem.
Clean Air Zones Present Challenges for Both Consumers and Businesses
The proposals have been met with mixed responses. Many people support the views, but argue they will be costly. Drivers will need to pay 12.50 GBP a day, which will be a burden on working class people.
However, such schemes pose plenty of challenges for fleets and many trade associations are asking for more government support. For starters, there are no viable alternatives for the industry meaning many fleet companies will be paying the charges on the new scheme.
For smaller businesses, it is going to be much harder to manage. Unfortunately, half of small businesses don’t know about clean air zones, so they aren’t making adequate preparations. The government will only exempt the latest Euro IV models, and the majority of fleet businesses will have older vehicles in their remit.
With the scheme coming into effect in 2019, the deadline is looming. Which means fleet companies will need to start preparing. But what can they do to help themselves when clean air zones are introduced. Here, Mark McKenna of Bluedrop Services Fleet Insurance brokers, outlines what you should be doing to prepare.
What can fleet companies do to prepare?
Around 34% of fleet operators still have no strategy in place. Whereas most businesses are happy to face the charges rather than prepare for any changes. Despite this, there are some things every fleet company can do to help get ready for the introduction of clean air zones in addition to seeking to reduce their carbon footprint.
- Upgrade your fleet and find fuel alternatives
Only Euro VI vehicles will be exempt from any charges in the new clean air zones. Meaning that most fleets will actually be facing charges unless they start looking at ways to upgrade their fleet or find a way to move to alternative fuels.
Companies still need to remain competitive, and to make sure your fleet meets the required standards you could be looking at high costs from the hundreds of thousands to millions, depending on the size of your business. Weighing up the opportunity costs for both sides might be a good bet for fleet operators. That way, you can approach it in the way that suits your particular business best.
- Telematics data
Most fleet operators will be able to look at their fleet and find ways to improve their vehicle cycles through the use of telematics data. This can help ensure Euro VI vehicles remain in better condition as well as reduce costs of older vehicles over time by monitoring emissions and their efficiency. Telematics data can also help reduce your carbon footprint and free up some of the budget for possible charges when clean air zones are introduced.
- Plan your route
It may be that some drivers will be driving through the new clean air zones unnecessarily. Instead, fleet managers could use telematics data and GPS systems to track new routes for drivers in order to avoid the cost of additional charges. It may cause longer journeys, but the travel costs may be outweighed when compared to the charges in clean air zones.
Be aware of any government introductions to potential route changes and night time exemptions as well as the use of any bus zones. It may also be important to incorporate charging points along the way so that employees don’t have to keep re-routing and risk extra charges.
- Combine services
In some instances, a firm could reduce the number of drivers they have on the road by combining journeys. Instead of using two vehicles to drive through a clean air zone, they could assign one driver, thus reducing the charges.
Alternatively, you could look at moving Euro VI vehicles to the clean air zones and keeping other vehicles in different areas or opening a new site with more storage, so you can downsize your fleet.
- Budget for new charges
If nothing else, all fleet companies will benefit from planning ahead and budgeting in the coming years for any charges they may face. It may not always be possible to upgrade a fleet before it reaches the end of the cycle. By making improvements and adjusting budgets, you may be able to move some of those costs around to prepare for any charges.
It will be worth keeping up to date with government changes as there are so many decisions that still need to be made. We would advise that you keep involved with local authorities and government announcements so that you can be more prepared for clean air zones.
Prepare for Clean Air Zones by April!
Half of UK businesses are completely unaware that clean air zones are going to be changing their future. It is very important to make the necessary changes to meet the compliance standards and reduce costs. Is your business ready?