Charging trucks to enter a zero-emission zone in Oxford will put firms at risk, warns the Road Haulage Association.

Considering that there are no zero-emission trucks currently on the market, the RHA Is accusing town hall chiefs of imposing just another tax on businesses.

Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council are considering proposals to launch a ‘Red Zone’ in the city centre from December whereby vehicles that fail to meet zero emission standards will face £10 daily charges.

In plans published ahead of an informal consultation, the charging could be operational between 7am-7pm.

A ‘green zone’ covering the remainder of the city centre could be launched from 2021/22.

RHA chief executive, Richard Burnett said: “If council chiefs are serious about slashing emissions they need to focus on improving road infrastructure. Current plans mean that consumers will face higher prices in the shops as hard-pressed firms have no choice but to pass on the extra costs.

“Imposing a scheme where even the cleanest, Euro VI trucks will be hit with charges is absurd.

“The councils have offered no evidence to show how these measures will improve air quality so we can only conclude this is all about showcasing their green credentials instead of making the tough choices to tackle emissions.

“These are poorly conceived ideas which will leave Oxford’s communities footing the bill with price hikes in the high street if they go ahead.”

He branded plans to offer exemptions for firms based within the zone as discriminatory, pointing out that most firms delivering into the area will be based outside the zone – many of them within a few miles of the city centre.

The councils’ informal consultation is open until Friday 31 January. A formal consultation will follow in March ahead of a decision in spring. The RHA will be responding in due course.