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Epyx warns fleets could face clean air zone fines

Date: 19 September 2019   |   Author: Sean Keywood

The introduction of clean air zones (CAZs) across the UK could mean a big increase in the number of penalty charge notices accrued by fleets.

That's the view of Tim Meadows, commercial director of fleet software firm Epyx, who says that while the initial emissions standards enforced by the first wave of CAZs are not too onerous for car drivers, they are likely to spread and become more severe in years to come, meaning the potential is there for a large number of fines to be incurred.

Clean air zones with some form of charging element are on the way and at various stages of implementation in cities including Leeds, Birmingham, Bath, Sheffield, Manchester, Oxford and Glasgow, while the London Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) is already in force.

Many of the cities do not plan charges for private cars, while in London - where the ULEZ currently covers the same area as the central Congestion Charge zone, but is set to increase as far out as the North and South Circular in 2021 - charges only apply to petrol cars that do not meet the Euro 4 emissions standard, and diesel cars that do not comply with Euro 6 requirements.

As these standards have both been place for cars registered since September 2015, cars on company fleets typically are too young to be affected as things stand.

However, Meadows warns that this situation may change if rules are subsequently tightened up.

He said: "It is very likely that the introduction of the CAZs is just the leading edge of local measures to curb transport-based emissions that will grow relatively quickly in terms of the rules applied as well as geographically.

"In addition to this, the London ULEZ is going to undoubtedly create penalty charge notice issues for some fleets operating in the capital - and is probably already doing so."

But it is not just emissions that could cause a future increase in fleet fines, with Meadows warning that more stringent enforcement of speeding offences could also be a factor.

He said: "Certainly, we seem to be entering an era when police forces are looking to get tougher on speeding and, again, this is likely to create more paperwork for fleets to handle."

Meadows said that both these issues would compound a problem that was already a major source of frustration for fleet managers.

He said: "The fact is that fines and penalty charge notices are a substantial issue for many fleets in terms of the costs associated with processing and the time lost in administration.

"Any increase in volume is an issue."

Meadows said that fleets had two possible solutions to the problem - to crack down on drivers who generate charges and fines, and to get better at processing them.

He said: "We are already seeing signs that some fleets are getting tougher on their drivers, especially when it comes to repeat offenders, and this strategy makes sense.

"What we are also encountering is greater interest in processing of penalty charge notices and fines, and identifying ways in which they can be handled faster and at a lower cost."