Fleet organisations representing the users of millions of cars, vans and trucks have today come together with local policymakers to discuss air quality issues and proposals for a Derby Clean Air Zone (CAZ).

The round table meeting was jointly hosted by Derby City Council, the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) and the Energy Saving Trust. Also present were the Association of Car Fleet Operators, Fleet News and a number of national and regional fleet operators.

This roundtable is part of a number taking place in cities across the UK that are planning Clean Air Zones as part of tackling poor local air quality.

Gerry Keaney, Chief Executive of the BVRLA said:

‘We are very grateful to Derby City Council for welcoming us to their offices for this hugely important discussion.

“The Government have identified Clean Air Zones as an important tool in addressing poor air quality in heavily trafficked urban areas. Derby is one of those areas where a Clean Air Zone could be required, which could affect a wide range of people, including fleet operators, not just in Derby but across the region. It’s vital that the development of the CAZ is based on wide consultation to maximise its effectiveness and not have an adverse impact on the wider economy and people’s quality of life”.

Local Authorities identified as having severe air quality issues are required to submit plans to improve air quality to central government by Autumn this year.  The government has set out criteria around which types of vehicles can be charged to access a CAZ.

The BVRLA recently published a new factsheet outlining its proposals for a fleet-friendly air quality policy. As well as highlighting the clean air credentials of the vehicle rental, leasing and car club sectors, the document also urges policymakers to focus on three priorities when considering Clean Air Zones and other air quality measures:

  • Providing a managed transition for businesses and individuals – attention should be given to those that cannot afford to upgrade their vehicles.
  • Ensuring that Clean Air Zones are a catalyst for behaviour change – local residents and businesses should be encouraged and incentivised to consider more sustainable vehicles or modes of transport.
  • More incentives for Ultra Low Emission Vehicles – policymakers can do more to stimulate the first and second-hand market for ultra-low emission vehicles, particularly electric ones.

“We hope that this forum will be the first of many proactive and ongoing discussions between policymakers and fleet operators around the vital issue of air quality,” added Keaney.

“It is vital that clean air zones and other air quality measures are not just seen as a punitive stealth tax or piece of red tape. We all want to see fewer, cleaner vehicles used in cities, and the best chance of delivering this new vision of urban mobility will come from working together.”

Councillor Asaf Afzal, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods & Public Protection said:

“Derby City Council is committed to improving air quality across our streets and communities, and have made it our priority to reduce pollution levels so our residents can live healthier lives”.

“Everyone has a part to play. Having cleaner vehicles is a key part of reducing pollution and improving air quality in our city, and we’re excited to work with fleet operators to help support the move towards even more cleaner vehicles”.

Andrew Benfield, Group Director of Transport at the Energy Saving Trust said:

“Clean air is important to everyone and the Energy Saving Trust is pleased to be supporting Derby City Council with initiatives to reduce emissions that cause poor air quality, including this Fleet Summit being held in the city.

“Fleets are an important audience and working with the BVRLA means that we can influence a significant market of vehicles that are leased and rented in large numbers. Although most leased and rental vehicles are the most modern and clean, it’s important to be challenging and supportive of fleet operators through their vehicle choice process.  Energy Saving Trust works with fleet operators to find the cleanest vehicles available to support the campaign to improve the air quality in towns and cities such as Derby.”