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Clean air and low emission zones 

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The delays to the pollution-tackling clean air zones announced earlier in the year have provided an opportunity for construction and commercial vehicle businesses to review the impacts that the changes are likely to have.

The introduction of clean air zones (CAZs) across the UK has been deferred to at least January 2021, to allow authorities to tackle the coronavirus outbreak. This also came as the planned zero-emission zone for Oxford was delayed until summer 2021 and consultations for plans in Manchester were halted.

In London, further restrictions on the low emission zone (LEZ), which were due to be unveiled in October, have also been delayed.

We caught up with our SME Sales Director, Ken McKeating and Peter Eggeman, Fleet Consultant at Energy Saving Trust (EST), to discuss the upcoming changes and get some advice for those affected…

Peter Eggeman, Programme Manager – Fleet Support at Energy Saving Trust (EST), said: “One of the issues with both Low Emission Zones and Clean Air Zones is that they’re not all the same. Some are big, e.g. London, and some are small, e.g. Oxford. Some just revolve around a few streets, e.g. the joint zone with Islington & Hackney.

“The London LEZ is the biggest zone and the one with the potential to affect the most businesses. In addition to providing guidance for businesses operating in this area, we might engage with a fleet that operates in Bristol for example, that doesn’t realise the potentially hidden costs of not upgrading its Eu V/5 HGVs and LCVs to Eu VI/6 to thereby avoid CAZ/LEZ charges.

“At EST, our vision is to provide leadership and expertise to deliver a zero-carbon society. We work with individuals, businesses, communities and governments to save energy and reduce carbon emissions.”

Ken McKeating, Sales Director of SME Lending at Paragon, said: “Whilst plant and vehicle-hire firms have been given more time to comply with the restrictions, investment is still likely to be required in order to ensure machinery and vehicles comply with new zones and tightened restrictions. Particularly for smaller firms operating within the M25, who are also likely to be recovering from the financial effects of Covid-19, upgrading fleets could cause another huge financial strain.

“The impact on all firms operating vehicles inside the effected zones will be seen through the fitting and maintenance of the necessary equipment and bringing forward replacement costs for non-compliant vehicles.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has already had a big impact on the supply chains that these businesses operate in, making it difficult for both construction and transport firms to prepare for the new standards.

“At Paragon, our specialist teams can provide guidance and support on funding for businesses that are looking to update their fleets in order to meet the new regulations.”

Paragon Banking Group PLC.  Registered in England number 2336032.  Registered office 51 Homer Road, Solihull, West Midlands  B91 3QJ.