The London Assembly Transport Committee has proposed that changes to the London Congestion Charge could be introduced to reduce LCV traffic in the centre of the capital during peak times.

In a letter to Transport for London (TfL), Valerie Shawcross, chair of the Transport Committee, suggested a feasibility study could be conducted to determine whether an “improved road charging system” might reward more environmentally-friendly LCVs with lower tariffs.

The Federation of Small Businesses said congestion charges had led many delivery companies to add on a surcharge to delivery bills, which was difficult for SMEs in London to pass on to their customers as it damaged competitiveness compared to businesses outside the city.

A FSB Congestion Survey found 46% of businesses feel the C-Charge should be reduced during off-peak hours while 34% said it should increase in peak periods. Almost 40% said the tariff should be cut for greener vans.

The Transport Committee also said businesses should be encouraged to switch to night time deliveries to reduce congestion during busy periods but recognised “the barriers some businesses face in changing delivery times” (such as staff working hours).

It called on local authorities to ensure their planning policies do not prevent changes to delivery times but also acknowledged the danger of exposing residential areas to noise.

The Committee said consolidation centres, where goods are dropped at a hub and taken to their final destinations by fewer vehicles, could reduce traffic.

Citing a trial operated in the London Borough of Camden in 2014 by DHL, which it claimed had cut delivery traffic to 300 buildings by 40%, Shawcross claimed: “Consolidation centres, both in outer and inner London, offer enormous opportunities to help reduce light commercial traffic.”

She added Brussels and Paris had trialed consolidation centres where goods from shoppers and vendors were stored and delivered by third party firms using low-emission vehicles.

TfL has estimated the number of miles travelled by vans in London from 2012 to 2014 increased by13%. Based on estimated population growth, it predicted van traffic would grow by 22% between 2011 and 2031.