Next year, cleaner lorries will receive a 10% discount on the HGV Road User Levy as part of a government plan to improve air quality in the UK.
From February 2019, trucks that meet the Euro-6 emissions standard will pay a lower rate of levy. Euro-5 and older HGVs will see a 20% increase on the current fees.
Following on from a consultation in 2017, which looked at emissions reduction and route optimisation, the UK government says that more than half of the lorries on the roads will benefit from the lower fees, with the haulage industry benefiting in the long term as they start to use cleaner HGVs.
The Department for Transport has said it is introducing the changes because the latest lorries on the roads generate 80 per cent fewer nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions on average compared to older, more polluting HGVs.
Roads Minister Jesse Norman said:
"This government is committed to improving the air we breathe and delivering a green revolution in transport. HGVs account for around a fifth of harmful nitrogen oxide emissions from road transport, but they only travel 5% of the total miles. That’s why we’re changing the HGV levy to encourage firms to phase out the most polluting lorries and bring in the cleanest ones."
The current annual rate for 40 to 44 tonne artics is £1,000. February 2019 will see this reduced to £900 for Euro-6 category vehicles. However, the rate for vehicles that don't meet this standard will increase to £1,200.
The FTA has welcomed the 10% reduction in levy costs for Euro-6 lorries, however, there are concerns that the 20% increase for older vehicles will unfairly punish small businesses who are already struggling to find suitable drivers and facing other costs.
Head of the FTA's UK Policy, Christopher Snelling commented:
"Trucks have been getting cleaner for decades, we are not dealing with an intractable problem but merely the question of how soon do the beneficial changes come. The government's approach to cleaner air risks putting some smaller hauliers' livelihoods at risk for only a temporary gain on air quality. The reform of the levy was an opportunity to help, and for the most part the government has failed to take it."
In addition to changes to the Road User Levy, the DVSA will also be investigating non-payment of the levy by foreign hauliers. The DfT plans to improve the technology to prevent non-payment of tolls and fines issued to foreign trucks, or possibly ban offending HGVs from entering the UK.