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Air quality rules must be fair for all, warns FSB

Any future air quality measures must not hit small businesses disproportionately, a new report by FSB warns.

Clearing the Air: Supporting Small Businesses in Tackling Air Quality in England argues that policies such as the introduction of clean air zones in England have the potential to hit up to 1.5 million small businesses and the self-employed by creating restrictions and additional costs for those that operate within their boundaries.

The report calls for greater support for smaller firms to mitigate the impact of clean air zones, including extending a diesel scrappage scheme to cover all small businesses based or operating in such areas. It also suggests all cash surpluses raised from such measures should be ring-fenced for local road improvement and air quality initiatives.

“Smaller firms recognise the role they can play in reducing air pollution and many are already doing their bit,” said Allen Creedy, FSB Policy Chair for Environment, Water and Energy. 

“However, the path to reaching air quality targets must be affordable, achievable and fair. Firms are already struggling, and it is simply not fair on them, or to the benefit of the wider economy, to suddenly burden them with substantial additional costs associated with improving air quality.”

The report also called for major investment in energy infrastructure, including charging points to make electric vehicles a more viable option.