The Road Haulage Association has produced figures which challenge some of the myths that support the drive to tax lorries out of towns and cities.

Based on government statistics, the RHA NOx Emission Assessment says that lorries and buses accounted for only 7.6 percent of NOx emissions in 2015. HGV emissions have reduced by nearly 43 percent since 2013 and are expected to have fallen 70 percent by the end of 2021.

RHA chief executive, Richard Burnett said: “Our industry has made huge progress adopting cleaner air technologies to help reduce emissions, yet the Government and local authorities still attack haulage through punitive policies.

“The road user levy, and the premature adoption of clean air zones – some as soon as next year – will punish hauliers who deliver goods to towns and cities, keeping supermarket shelves stocked. And with no retrofit option available, low residuals for Euro V and high prices for second-hand Euro VI, we have to ask how government expects every haulier to have adopted the cleanest trucks so quickly? It is impossible.

“Our assessment of the Government’s fleet numbers show that by as early as 2021 the haulage sector will have reduced its NOx emissions by 70 percent in less than a decade even without the introduction of clean air zones. So targeting hauliers and crippling them with huge fines won’t deliver the emissions reductions they claim – it will only increase congestion and emissions when more operators switch to more polluting vans to make urban deliveries instead.

“It’s essential that the Government reviews its guidance to local authorities to either delay zone charges until vehicles are 12 years old, or at the very least cap charges for Euro V lorries at £10 per day until 2024.”