From February 2019, trucks meeting the latest Euro 6 emissions standards will be eligible for a 10 per cent reduction in the cost of the HGV Road User Levy, according to new rules set out by the government.

However, trucks that do not meet the latest emissions standards will have to pay 20 per cent more.

“We’re changing the HGV levy to encourage firms to phase out the most polluting lorries and bring in the cleanest ones,” said roads minister, Jesse Norman.

The HGV Road User Levy was introduced in 2014, and the government said when these new changes come into effect, more than half of UK vehicles will pay less.

However, the new rules have been branded as unfair to small and medium-sized operators by the Freight Transport Association (FTA), which argued they will be penalised.

“The introduction of the increased levy on pre-Euro 6 trucks will actually hurt those small and medium sized business that already face increased costs as they need to upgrade to Euro 6 vehicles early to be compliant with the planned Clean Air Zones,” said Christopher Snelling, head of UK policy at FTA.

“It hurts them because the re-sale value of their slightly older lorries, the Euro 4 and 5s, has fallen so much – making the jump to afford a new Euro 6 so much greater.” 

FTA said the government should have loaded the increase onto older trucks (Euro 3 and below) to create “a short-term market for the Euro 4 and 5 vehicles that those delivering to city centres will be seeking to sell on”.

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) said it was “dismayed” that in less than a year, the majority of haulage operators will have to pay an additional 20 per cent towards the Levy.

“We’re at a complete loss as to understand government’s latest decision to inflict yet more pain with another tax hike on hauliers,” said RHA chief executive, Richard Burnett.

“Road transport operators have made huge strides in adopting cleaner air technologies. Despite this, government has made it very clear it has no interest in either acknowledging that progress, or in supporting the industry on its journey to an emissions-free future. 

“We consider it grossly unfair that government uses clean air policies to justify squeezing money out of already cash-strapped hauliers to plug financial gaps elsewhere. Where is the incentive? 

“What’s needed is a realistic scrappage scheme that supports our industry during this transition, not a penal approach,” Burnett concluded.