The owners of a family run logistics firm have warned the imposition of a proposed £100 a day ‘pollution tax’ on lorries would be “unsustainable” for many businesses and could “effectively bankrupt” the Leeds economy.
Brothers Stuart and Keith Large, who run H&A Transport in Cross Green, were responding to proposals by Leeds City Council to introduce a new Clean Air Zone (CAZ) to help reduce air pollution levels, which are among the worst in the country.
The council is currently consulting on a range of measures to help the city to clean up its act, on the orders of the Government.
The consultation ends tomorrow (Friday) and people are urged to have their say here.
The plans include a possible £100 a day charge for HGVs operating inside the CAZ area.
The Large brothers, whose father Geoff founded the company 48 years ago, say if the fee is brought in, it will equate to £300,000 a year for their firm, something which is “unsustainable” and could force them to relocate.
They have now written to Leeds councillors urging them to use “common sense” in their approach.
Keith Large explained: “The charges proposed are quite obviously unsustainable for my company and we would have no option but to try and exercise the break clause in our lease on our 60000 sq. ft premises in Cross Green and look to relocate our business to an area with a more understanding council.
“This move alone would cost our business hundreds of thousands of pounds.
“The move would inevitably encompass making local staff redundant or at the very least offering relocation at any new facility where they would have to travel each day, thus negating any reduction in pollution.”
He added the charge would also affect up to 40 vehicles a day from customers and suppliers and would discourage trade.
“I have no doubt that these customers would choose an alternative route to export their goods from Leeds as the cost of the vehicle to deliver their goods to us would increase by £100 every time they delivered in.
“A delivery to France for example of one pallet would would increase to £235, a 74 per cent increase.
“This just wouldn’t be cost effective to them and in turn we would certainly lose business.
“The council needs to support local businesses, not punish them, particularly in light of the current uncertainty surrounding Brexit.”
Leeds City Council is consulting on a number of ideas, which include possible financial help for commercial drivers and businesses which could be affected by the Clean Air Zone.
The zone would cover roads within the outer ring road (with the M1 and M62 as the south-eastern boundary) and would charge buses, HGVs, taxis and private hire vehicles which fail to meet the latest emissions standards for vehicles (Euro 6 standard).
A council spokesperson said: “Leeds City Council is extremely keen through its public consultation which is now in its last week, to hear the thoughts of residents and businesses on our air quality proposals, which includes the issue of daily payments in the Leeds Clean Air Zone.
“All of the details set out in the consultation, including any charges to enter the Leeds Clean Air Zone, are just proposals, with no final decisions being made at this stage.
“We have been instructed by government to come up with a proposal that allows us to reach national air quality levels within the shortest possible timescale.
“This instruction is not optional, with the final proposal having to be submitted in September 2018.
“The council is consulting on proposals to achieve this, whilst not adversely affecting the Leeds economy.
“We welcome all contributions which help us better understand the impact of our initial proposals and suggestions for how we might better achieve our goal.
“We will be continuing to lobby government and asking local businesses to work closely with us to ensure that the appropriate level of funding is made available on a national level.”
See https://www.leeds.gov.uk/business/environmental-health-for-business/air-quality to have your say.