‘Leeds can be a world-leader on tackling air pollution’

Traffic on Wellington Road, Leeds, near the Armley Gyratory, once named Britains 4th most polluted road.

A Leeds politician has called on the city’s council to make a statement to the nation by committing to World Health Organisation targets for air quality.

Leeds North West MP Alex Sobel has submitted 23 proposals in which he has called on Leeds to be the first city in the UK to commit to limits of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter (PM), a much more stringent target than existing UK and EU limits.

Alex Sobel, North West Leeds MP. Picture: Tony Johnson.

Mr Sobel was making his submissions to a wide ranging survey on plans for a Clean Air Zone in Leeds, which ends today and has already attracted 7,000 responses.

People still have time to share their views by visiting www.leeds.gov.uk/business/environmental-health-for-business/air-quality.

Mr Sobel said: “Scotland has adopted WHO limits into existing legislation as an ambition. Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council have committed to introduce the world’s first Zero Emission Zone in Oxford City Centre, which will see diesel and petrol vehicles banned from Oxford City Centre, cutting nitrogen dioxide in the city centre’s most polluted street by 74% by 2035. In recognition that the UK’s current limits for PM are unsafe, the Greater London Authority and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority have committed to achieve the WHO limits by 2030.”

“While other authorities are moving towards adopting WHO limits for PM, no other local authority has yet committed to doing so. I would welcome Leeds City Council becoming the first local authority to adopt WHO limits for PM.”

Mr Sobel also repeated his call for more publicly available charge points for electric vehicles, more incentives for electric vehicle purchase, Bramhope Parkway Station to be brought forward to 2021, a renewed focus on cycling and for the council to take note of emerging research findings about wood burning.


The council has been forced to take action after the city was branded one of the UK’s worsts pollution hotspots and unlikely to fail legal air quality levels by 2020. Leeds was ordered by the Government to come up with an action plan to tackle the issue.

The current proposals are for a Clean Air Zone covering roads within the outer ring road (with the M1 and M62 as the south-eastern boundary) that would charge buses, HGVs, taxis and private hire vehicles which fail to meet the latest emissions standards for vehicles (Euro 6 standard). The zone would not include vehicles that divert around the outer ring road or motorways.

Private vehicles of any age would not be affected by the charges. But charges could be as high as £100 per day for buses and lorries, and £12.50 a day for taxis and private hire vehicles.

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