Leeds Clean Air Zone 'to be significantly postponed', council announces

A Clean Air Zone which was set to be introduced to Leeds has been "significantly postponed".

Tuesday, 18th June 2019, 2:42 pm

The Clean Air Zone was due to come into force in January 2020.

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.

The clean air zone was due to be implemented in January 2020.

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The new charge was due to be monitored using an ANPR camera which automatically recognises vehicle registration plates.

To be exempt from the charge, vehicles would have to comply with latest Euro 6 standards, which significantly reduce emissions from diesel engines – cutting some pollutants by 96 per cent compared to the 1992 limits, according to the AA.

-> How the Leeds Clean Air Zone will work and who has to pay the chargeHowever, the decision to delay the zone has been made by Leeds Council due to 'a government delay in delivering digital systems required to make the zones operational and enforceable'.

The vehicle checker will now not be ready until December - a two month delay on the expected October delivery.

It is not known how long the delay will be at this stage.

A statement released on behalf of Leeds and Birmingham Council said: "Both Birmingham City Council and Leeds City Council had been on track to implement Clean Air Zones on the basis that a vehicle checker tool, which is being delivered by the government’s Joint Air Quality Unit (JAQU), would be ready by October 2019 as planned.

"However JAQU (a joint unit between DfT and DEFRA) has now confirmed that the vehicle checker will not be available until at least December 2019 - leaving just weeks before the zones were due to come into force in January 2020.

"Additionally, the government is now expecting local authorities to deliver a system for collecting payments from non-compliant vehicles which enter the Clean Air Zone - having previously said that it would deliver this.

"The original plans for Clean Air Zones in Birmingham and Leeds came after the government identified that parts of each city would likely fail legal air quality levels by 2020 and instructed both local authorities to tackle air pollution as soon as possible.

"Air pollution has been identified by Public Health England as the largest environmental risk to public health in the UK. Evidence shows that it can cause or worsen a range of lung and heart conditions including asthma, chronic bronchitis, chronic heart disease and stroke."

Reacting to the delay, Councillor James Lewis, Deputy Leader for Leeds City Council, said it was "extremely dissapointing" to delay the introduction due to the government's failure to 'meet its own commitments".

He added: "Leeds City Council has worked incredibly hard to make sure that the Clean Air Zone would be delivered on time, successfully meeting a number of challenging deadlines set by the government. Many local businesses have similarly invested both time and money into ensuring their own preparedness for January.

"Like most residents in Leeds, the council believes that tackling air pollution to protect the health of everyone in our city is an important priority. Therefore we will continue to do everything possible to mitigate this delay to the best of our own ability and by continuing to work closely with the government.

"Despite this delay we will continue to financially support owners of affected vehicles switching to less polluting models that will not be charged, as doing so is the best way to improve air quality prior to the charging zone’s introduction. As planned, we will also begin to install the camera infrastructure required for the zone within the next few weeks.

"The government now needs to outline new timescales that they are confident can be delivered in order to give residents and businesses across the country clarity and certainty about the future of these schemes."