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What Does London’s New Toxicity Charge Mean For The Courier Industry?

Friday, 10 Mar 2017

The logistics industry has long understood its impact on the environment, and as a result any move to help improve air quality and reduce pollution is welcome. We all have a responsibility to do better, and technology is helping us reduce the impact of our work.

But any policy changes in this area have to treat everyone equally.

This October, drivers in London will see the introduction of Mayor Sadiq Khan’s toxicity charge. In addition to the current congestion charge, this new pollution tax will require anyone driving a car that doesn’t meet Euro 4 standards – that is, the majority of high emission, diesel cars made before 2006 – to pay £10 upon entering the city.

What does this new initiative in the UK’s busiest city mean for our industry?

Couriers as advocates for clean air

The stark fact is that as congestion levels on our roads continue to increase, so too do air pollution levels. As a leading distribution company with more than 3,200 couriers travelling around the UK, keeping the air in our cities clean and safe is one of our biggest priorities.

We play an active role in reducing emissions for future generations; we’re expanding our green fleet and trialling new environmentally friendly vehicles that don’t detriment the air quality in our cities. That’s why we support the Make Air Pollution Visible initiative led by Deliver Change; make significant investments into award winning environmental systems; and use technology that allows our fleet to deliver as efficiently as possible, reducing ‘dead miles’ and therefore pollution. It’s an issue we all have to take seriously.

Like many in our industry, we are also exploring alternative delivery options. We have an incredibly varied fleet, from vans and bikes to greener pushbike couriers. We are keeping a keen eye on the latest vehicle developments but, today, electronic vehicles are simply not yet a fully viable option for UK-wide delivery.

Are we being unfairly penalised?

Whilst we are fully in support of any efforts to improve the air quality in the capital, in our view it’s disappointing to see the way this tax is being implemented.

Diesel vehicles are the biggest contributors to air pollution in London, responsible for 40 per cent according to the London assembly environment committee. Taxis, passenger car companies and private hire vehicles make up a significant share of this group, and yet they will not be required to pay the new toxicity charge.

It seems unfathomable that Black Cabs – which tend to be some of the worst emissions producers, pumping thick black exhaust from heavy diesel vehicles – will be exempt. The courier industry meanwhile, known for taking steps into using more responsible, environmentally friendly vehicles, will once again be excessively penalised.

Where next?

As committed citizens, we recognise and applaud the efforts of the City of London and Mayor Khan when it comes to taking action against the pollution levels in our city.

But I’m sure I speak for the wider courier industry, when I say that these policies need to be fair and equal; meaning everyone whose job involves driving in the city needs to be a part of the positive change. It’s not the first time a policy has been introduced that unduly affects the ability of our sector to operate – but the need for logistics in urban areas remains.

This is of course not an easy or straightforward issue. But it is one we have to tackle. We’re up for playing our part, but we believe any changes have to be implemented more universally to make a real difference.

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