The Builders Merchants’ Federation (BMF) has called on Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, to clarify his Department’s Clean Air Zone proposals and warns that they risk adding “disproportionate costs” to SME businesses.
The BMF emphasised the role of its members as the ‘last-mile’ link in delivering to building sites - and that merchants and manufacturers have no choice but to use diesel vehicles to deliver heavy materials like bricks and timber that require lifting gear to load/unload them for customers.
In a letter to the Environment Secretary, the BMF argues that Clean Air Zones are set to be introduced with “insufficient time for businesses to make necessary operational changes”, stating that the main concern is “the connection between start dates for minimum vehicle emissions’ standards, the typical life-span of vehicles, and the normal rate that firms replace their vehicles”.
The BMF urges Mr Gove to work with Cabinet colleagues to support merchants to replace old, polluting vehicles with cleaner, greener models, rather than introduce charging Clean Air Zones.
John Newcomb, BMF CEO, said: “With combined member sales of £27 billion and 4,900 branches across the UK, the BMF leads the way in wanting to see builders, plumbers and timber merchants play a part in improving air quality.
“The cost of doing business is already high and Clean Air Zones are likely to represent another administrative and financial burden. We therefore want to see a firm commitment from the Environment Secretary that both he and local authorities are willing to work with SMEs like merchants to exhaust all options before resorting to charging zones.”