The Freight Transport Association (FTA) is sending Birthday wishes to the London Congestion Charge which turns ten on Sunday 17 February, but is calling on the powers-that-be to extend the celebrations by considering the freight and logistics industry by offering the gift of free access which FTA says should be granted for "essential users."
Appealing on behalf of its members FTA is asking Transport for London (TfL) – (the organisation responsible for the Congestion Charge) to re-think the Charge on freight operators who have no option other than to use the cities roads and congestion charge zones. Introduced on 17 February 2003, the London Congestion Charge included the whole of the City of London, the financial district, and the West End, London’s primary commercial and entertainment centre, and remains today as one of the largest congestion charge zones in the world.
In order for London businesses to thrive, to be at the centre of the world economy and to attract tourists, the capital is dependent on the thousands of deliveries made to shops and businesses every day, and FTA is asking TfL to recognise that this inevitably leads to an essential requirement for goods vehicles to enter central London which are subject to the Congestion Charge.
Natalie Chapman, FTA Head of Policy – London says:
"Whilst traffic has now risen back to pre-charging levels, there is no doubt that congestion in central London would be far worse without it. However, FTA believes that the Congestion Charge is purely a tax on deliveries and its focus should be to deter discretionary or non-essential journey’s where there is an option to choose an alternative time or to use public transport."
FTA states it fully recognises that the aim of the Congestion Charge is to deter reduce congestion, CO2 emissions and improve air quality, but considers the charge to be a ‘tax on deliveries’ as in many cases the delivery driver has no choice but to enter the Congestion Charge zone. In addition the FTA is asking that where the vehicle is essential to the journey and the user has little or no choice, such as is the case for blue badge holders, a 100 per cent discount is and should continue to be offered.
FTA also makes the point that it is not feasible to deliver goods on public transport and nor are alternative modes practical for the to-the-door deliveries that central London requires. With no charge-free breaks available in the daytime to encourage deliveries to be made outside of rush hour, the Association is appealing to TfL to consider all available options for providing discounts and exemptions to the scheme for freight.