Dear Sadiq Khan,
As the Lord Mayor of London and head of the executive of the Greater
London Authority, you’ve taken the decision to extend the Low Emissions
Zone (LEZ) emissions standards from 1st March 2021 to making it tougher
for heavier vehicles to drive within the Greater London area. This includes
Heathrow as per your guidance on www.tfl.govuk: ‘All roads within
Greater London, those at Heathrow and parts of the M1 and M4 are
included.’ The charges are payable 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
The charges range from £100 to £300 per day with penalty charges at
£500 or £250 if paid within 14 days.
As a company which is involved in the transfer of perishable – mainly
essential food – cargo both into and out of the UK this move is crippling
our business. We have daily consignments of food departing from
Heathrow and coming in from Heathrow which we handle on behalf of our
customers to ensure a seamless onward journey. We also receive daily
consignments of European produce to our packhouse, which is then
packed and loaded, ready for distribution to the UK’s major food retailers.
While our own fleet of trucks is Euro VI compliant, many of the European
hauliers that we work with to deliver food are not and are now refusing to
come to Heathrow because of the unacceptably high charges.
During the pandemic, we have worked tirelessly to maintain our
operations despite the challenging conditions, so that the supply chain to
the UK’s supermarkets and key retailers could remain intact. We’ve also
been responsible for the safe transfer of essential PPE. Our employees are
classed as Essential Workers because of the important role they play in
keeping supermarkets stocked with vital food supplies.
Having survived the difficult trading conditions associated with the
pandemic we were then faced with the incredibly stressful fallout of
Britain’s departure from the EU. To say there has been a distinct lack of
clarity from senior decision makers is an understatement. The handling of
Brexit and its impact on our industry has been shambolic. We’ve had to
employ teams of people to try and keep up to speed with the constant
changes, which were still being modified as late as the first week of
January. Despite this, we’ve managed to adapt our operations yet again
and have successfully helped our clients understand the new protocols to
ensure perishable food supplies successfully reach their intended
destination on time.
Two major blows to the industry which could potentially have destroyed
an established British business. But we survived.
A business that employs around 100 members of staff. A business that
has invested heavily in helping the post-Brexit UK transport infrastructure
by creating an approved Border Control Post and ERT (bonded
warehouse) facility away from the ports at Spalding to enable the
continued speedy movement of produce. A business that is expanding and
generating new jobs. A business that supported UK manufacturing to the
tune of £500,000 by investing in a new fleet of state-of-the-art trucks. A
business that is closely aligned with Britain’s plans to ensure Heathrow
can compete with other major European airports.
And how are we repaid?
At a time when you are trying to assert Heathrow as an equal to Paris
CDG and Amsterdam in terms of airfreight the introduction of this tax has
effectively made this mission impossible. And with it you have also made
our plans to extend our operations in Heathrow untenable. This will lead
to people losing their jobs as we will be forced to relocate; the business
will have to spend thousand of pounds in re-training new staff and those
staff that are able to move to a new location will ironically be adding to
the cost of fuel emissions by generating more traffic on the roads as they
are forced to make longer journeys to work.
So much for supporting Britain’s essential workforce.