New research from Mercedes-Benz Vans UK Ltd suggests confusion and concern is rife over environmental policy on anniversary of the Great Smog; today marks 65 years since the Great Smog of London (1952) â€“ the worst air-pollution event in UK history that led directly to the revolutionary Clean Air Act 1956, radically reducing dangerous pollution across the nation.
Government research at the time estimated the smog caused some 4,000 deaths and 100,000 people were made ill as a result, though more recent research suggests the figures could be even higher â€“ and the repercussions are seen as a landmark moment in the development of a vital legal framework to protect the environment.
But the very latest environmental legislation â€“ a pledge to create Clean Air Zones (CAZ) in major cities across the UK within two years – is leaving key road-users confused and concerned about what they mean and how they will work, according to the Mercedes-Benz Vans Business Barometer.
This summer the Government announced as part of its Clean Air Strategy that the first five Clean Air Zones (CAZs) will be in place by the end of 2019 in Birmingham, Leeds, Nottingham, Derby and Southampton, but the new Mercedes-Benz Vans research released today suggests that businesses and drivers most likely to be impacted remain â€˜in the darkâ€™ about the plans.
In fact, one in five van drivers, owners and operators have not heard about the proposed Clean Air Zones while 41% say they fear they could have a negative impact on their business.
The Mercedes-Benz Vans Business Barometer data shows that 78% of van drivers, owners and operators want more clarity on what the charging and emissions criteria of these proposed CAZs will be.
Meanwhile just 6% of all van drivers, owners and operators were aware that Derby is one of the proposed five cities where roll-out will begin pre-2020, and just 7% could name Southampton as another of the first cities to have a Clean Air Zone.
Steve Bridge, Managing Director, Mercedes-Benz Vans UK Ltd, added: â€œIt speaks volumes that business owners and van operators donâ€™t see clearly when it comes to Clean Air; the communication about this topic simply hasnâ€™t reached this important section of industry.
â€œClean Air Zones undoubtedly have a positive impact on the environment and our health, but equally, business owners need to know the impact these Zones will have on them too â€“ forewarned is forearmed so they can prepare accordingly. To not have clear plans in place that are communicated effectively is doing a disservice to the hardworking business community.â€
The Mercedes-Benz Vans UK Business Barometer is an independent sample of 2,000 van drivers, owners, operators and fleet managers â€“ including tradespeople and service engineers to delivery drivers and entrepreneurs â€“ who share their views about their business growth expectations, career goals, challenges and barriers to growth that they face.