The British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) has responded to the Government’s consultation on proposed air quality plans.

In its submission, the association suggests policymakers should combine a mixture of restrictions and incentives to ensure the air quality measures are not overly punishing or economically damaging. Instead, plans should try to positively encourage behavioural changes, driving businesses and citizens towards adoption of cleaner transport technologies over the long term.

The BVRLA’s recommendations include:

• Ensuring that the implementation of Clean Air Zones encourages innovation in other areas, such as the proposed Mobility Credits scheme to create a currency for people to spend on temporary vehicle rental or public transport

• Providing a managed transition period, helping small to medium-sized companies to meet consumers and business needs by allowing adjustment of fleet compositions without incurring extra costs

• Offering further financial incentives for Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV) uptake, e.g. by extending current incentives for the first owner of ULEVs to cover subsequent owners

• Investigating the implementation of ‘green lanes’ on highly congested and polluting routes, exclusively for use by low emission vehicles

• Application of a consistent approach regarding Clean Air Zone signage, restrictions and fees in order to provide clarity and ensure compliance

Gerry Keaney, chief executive at BVRLA, said: “For many, their local Clean Air Zone will be the first tangible evidence of the Government’s drive to improve air quality. It’s vital that their design and implementation encourages growth and enhances rather than impedes people’s ability to get around and transport goods.

“We are calling for a carefully managed transition that encourages people and businesses to use more sustainable vehicles and modes of transport.

“Crucially, it must be done in a way that encourages people and businesses to make long term changes in their behaviour. Hence our strong advocacy of our Mobility Credits initiative which will help remove thousands of the most polluting vehicles from the roads.”

If Government and local authorities don’t get implementation right, Keaney says, public and business support for the initiative will quickly disappear as the economy, and overall quality of life, begin to suffer.

“The key to getting a quick and effective transition,” Keaney added, “will lie in government’s ability to implement a practical and workable solution which considers fleet operating cycles as well as offering incentives and support to operators.”