Fleet News

Polluting fleet vehicles become local authority targets

LOCAL authorities are taking the first steps in an environmental campaign that could lead to polluting fleet vehicles being banned from city centres. Nine cities are involved in a scheme to reduce traffic congestion and pollution in urban areas that could force a radical change in fleet acquisition policies.

The Clear Zone scheme is a national initiative set up to provide a 'liveable and accessible urban centre' where problems such traffic are reduced. Many of the proposals include restricting access to city centres. Co-ordinator Dr Guy Hitchcock said restrictions had to be introduced to improve the quality of life for residents. But he added that the schemes were not aimed at banning fleet vehicles from city centres altogether.

He said: 'The Clear Zone scheme is about trying to reduce the impact of traffic in our city centres. It involves traffic management and restrictions.' Hitchcock explained that Clear Zone-style schemes have already been successful in European countries such as Italy where small city streets can easily become congested. He added that a scheme in Gothenburg, Sweden, demanded heavy goods vehicles have a low emissions certificate before allowing them access to the city centre.

However, Nottingham City Council has revealed that in a Clear Zone to be implemented next year, there are plans for set emissions standards to be reached by vans and trucks entering the city. Any objections are to be considered at a public inquiry in April. Access is already restricted, but permits are issued to businesses or individuals that demonstrate they would suffer severe and unavoidable hardship if their vehicles can not gain access to the zones during the core time period of 10.30am to 4.30pm.

The move will act as a new warning to fleets that they have to act to make sure they acquire the cleanest vehicles or risk their companies' futures by being effectively blocked from delivering to customers. Fleet operators have already been urged to work hand-in-hand with local authorities on helping ban polluting vehicles from inner cities under ambitious plans being discussed by environmental organisation Alternative Traffic in Towns which is working to develop low emission zones throughout the country.

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