£29m Leeds clean air scheme approved by Government

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Leeds City Council have been given final approval and £29m in funding from the government for its clean air charging zone plans.

The scheme follows a ruling from the European Union that air quality in Leeds needs to improve. The clean air charging zone would see high-emission HGVs and buses being charged £50 a day, while taxis and private hire vehicles registered in the city would pay £50 a week.

Buses, along with HGVs and taxis, could be subject to the new charges.

Buses, along with HGVs and taxis, could be subject to the new charges.

Of the sum, which comes from central government, £23m will go towards helping businesses adapt and get greener vehicles, while £6m will go towards creating a CCTV network to monitor number plates of vehicles entering the zone.

It marks a reduction in the original amount £40m sought by the council for the plans. A letter sent in November by environment minister Therese Coffey said the council needed to provide more evidence as to the viability of the scheme, suggesting it could be cheaper.

The council claims the zone will reduce air pollution in Leeds by encouraging businesses to transition to cleaner, less polluting vehicles that are not subject to charges for driving within the zone boundary.

Coun James Lewis, executive member with responsibility for sustainability and the environment, said: “Having now received the green light from the government, our priority is to ensure the successful delivery of the clean air charging zone as required by ministerial direction over the next fifty weeks.

“Businesses that are likely to be affected need to look at the vehicles they operate and begin their final preparations for the introduction of the zone.

“We recognise that this will be a difficult transition for some businesses to make. We have not received the full amount of funding that we asked the government for, however, we are pleased to confirm today that a number of significant financial support packages will be available to assist owners of affected vehicles. We will be working hard to make sure this money is available swiftly.

“Leeds City Council will not make money from these charges. Charge revenue will only be used to cover the costs of operating the CAZ, to support owners of affected vehicles, and for other schemes to improve air quality in the city.”