A BUSINESS has slammed a proposal to introduce a “clean air zone”, calling it a “tax on the people of Essex” which could push companies out of the area.

MotorAid in one of many businesses operating in the Burnt Mills Industrial Estate which would be included within a designated zone where fines could be issued for idling engines, and companies will be under pressure to use clean vehicles.

The council believes the measures will tackle poor air quality in the area and could introduce the designated zone, as well as a 50mph speed limit on the A127.

But Simon Croft, director of MotorAid, warned his business would be among many that could relocate as a result.

He said: “From a business owner’s perspective, the more restrictive an area becomes to operate in, the more likely that companies will look to relocate. For residents perhaps this is great news, but now our workers will have longer to travel if we relocate, which has a negative impact on the environment and is unsustainable.

“I think like all good environment citizens, for which our company has won awards, this is nothing more than a tax on the people of Essex by way of speed cameras. The environment is just a lame excuse.

"The advice that has been offered to local businesses by Basildon Council on upgrading to cleaner vehicles, installing electrical charging points is nothing more than negligible and doesn’t tackle the core issues like sustainable travel for my team, such as trams, monorail or railway between the A12 and A127 corridors, linking the two mainline stations at Chelmsford and Basildon.

“Interconnectivity would then be sustainable by reducing carbon emissions on the road. Instead, the ownness is wholly on local businesses in an extremely tough economic climate too.

He added that the current plans risk impacting the environment negatively and there needs to be a consultation with the relevant businesses before the council makes a decision.

He said: “I invite any councillor to come and spend a week in my business to see what we do to to reduce environmental impact and to see in the eyes of a business owner how we can work successfully together without destructive decisions taken place on a whim."

Basildon councillors agreed to back the proposals during a meeting held on Tuesday night. 

Councillor Kevin Blake said the implementation of a clean air zone would “help improve the air we breathe in Basildon”.