If you work in or around the Birmingham area and you went away for Christmas, you might have missed a vital piece of news. In December 2018, the Birmingham council approved a charge of £50 a day for non-Euro 6 vehicles to enter the city's Clean Air Zone (CAZ). This means anyone with a non-compliant HGV who delivers goods or picks up return loads from within the CAZ (encompassing all roads within the A4540 Middleway ring road) will have to factor the charge into their operational costs.
While the charge won't be imposed until January 2020, when the CAZ comes into effect, anyone with a non-compliant vehicle or fleet would do well to start making plans a little earlier than that.
Clean Air Comes at a Cost
The Birmingham council was originally pushing for a charge double the final amount agreed upon, but a spokesperson says they appreciate the effect of the charge on local businesses. In fact, things could have been a lot worse in terms of the financial cost to operators, with the council making some concessions for those still operating non-Euro 6 compliant vehicles.
In a nutshell:
- The £50 charge will only apply once a day, no matter how many trips the truck makes.
- Hauliers who register to work in the CAZ will be entitled to an exemption of 12 months for two non-compliant vehicles.
- Companies operating throughout the West Midlands will be eligible to apply for a cash payment to be used towards a new vehicle or the retrofitting of clean air zone kits to existing HGVs.
Birmingham council have requested government funding to the tune of £68.7m, the bulk of which is earmarked to cover the costs of the measures outlined above.
Finding Alternative Ways to Reduce Operating Costs
Just like death and taxes, it looks like the nation's clean air zones are set to become an inevitable fixture in our lives. In reality, there probably aren't too many of us who could disagree with the intention of promoting a cleaner, greener, carbon-free delivery industry, and CAZs are simply a means to that end.
In an ideal world we'd all be driving Euro-6 compliant vehicles by 2020, but in reality it's still not financially viable for many smaller operators to invest in new HGVs. Even the expense of retrofitting clean air kits is prohibitive to many – if they're actually available.
Towards 2020, for hauliers to continue to be able to turn a profit despite extra costs of CAZs such as the one in Birmingham, it's important to find additional ways to reduce operating costs.
Maximise Return Loads, Minimise Dead Mileage
Picking up return loads in order to tackle the drain of dead mileage is one of the easiest and most effective ways of reducing your operating costs. And, I think you know what's coming next, because the best way of finding return loads is signing up to membership of Haulage Exchange. You'll have instant access to real time notifications of available loads and return loads in whatever area you're working. So, if you've got to pay a clean air charge, at least make it pay for itself!