Responses to my lambasting last week of the expansion of the 'Ultra Low Emission Zone' throughout Greater London, reminded me that the problem isn't just about London, either. I'd read about similar schemes in other cities both in the UK and overseas, but hadn't followed them quite as closely as I rarely drive through them. One response in particular stood out because it showed me that it's not just about individual freedom or even damage to smaller businesses and tradespeople - but about the food supply chain too and ultimately the cost of our food itself. Also, it showed me that all, perhaps, is not lost...
Alastair Scott, sales director at Robert Scott & Sons, wrote: "Thank you for your leader article on the expansion of the London ULEZ. We had a similar problem up here in Manchester - with a plan by Andy Burnham to extend a payment emission zone throughout the whole of greater Manchester, which included many rural areas with minimal traffic. After general uproar - including some people attempting to transport their sheep on the bus, to demonstrate why public transport does not work for everyone - the plan was shelved.
All the points you raise about small businesses and excess cost, were just as valid here. The general public consensus was that the driving factor is really extra revenue, rather than reducing emissions. If Government and local authorities are serious about reducing emissions; they need to urgently legislate a much better EV charging infrastructure. And not try and extract more cash from businesses who still have to use fossil fuel vehicles."
In kindly forwarding a picture of one of the sheep on a bus, Alistair revealed that a Shetland pony was also making the trip. I’d talked about cleaning equipment creating hazards when carried on public transport but this takes things to another level, doesn’t it! I said last week that the schemes hadn't been thought through and I'm now hoping that with some careful planning and a little courage, we can indeed persuade the powers that be, to think again.