Procurement · 27 July 2017

Small businesses call for clearer government direction on air quality

Small businesses that have invested in diesel vehicles could lose out from the air quality plan

The government’s plan to tackle poor air quality by banning petrol and diesel cars from Britain’s roads in 2040 lacks detail and assurances for small businesses, a key industry body has warned.

An air pollution report, published by the environment secretary, Michael Gove, has outlawed all conventional petrol and diesel-powered cars in 23 years’ time, but has failed to introduce more “clean air zones”, which charge heavily polluting vehicles for entering busy cities.

The report also makes no mention of a possible plan to bring in a scrappage scheme that would encourage people to give up diesel vehicles – a policy which small company owners require full clarity on, according to the Federation of Small Businesses’ (FSB) national chairman, Mike Cherry.

In a statement, Cherry said: For many small businesses, the vehicle they use and rely on plays a vital role in their activities – whether it’s transporting people or good and services.

“These businesses invested in diesel vehicles in good faith on the back of guidance from multiple governments – and are now being told that this investment could be worthless.”

Cherry urged the government to acknowledge the challenges small firms face with transitioning to low emissions vehicles and put in place an air quality plan that would “fairly compensate” business owners who’ve invested in diesel.

He also called on central government to lead from the front, and not to leave the country’s air quality responsibilities with under-resourced local authorities.

“Government cannot shirk responsibility on this issue,” he went on to say. “There must be detailed analysis of the impact of air quality proposals on smaller firms and how these can be mitigated. The only way this can happen is if there is thorough and extensive engagement with the small business community at all levels.”

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Fred Heritage is deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London. He previously worked as a reporter at Global Trade Review magazine.

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