Why I’m against Leeds Council’s plans for a ‘Clean Air Zone’

Crossrail engineers walk alongside completed tracks as the Crossrail project celebrates the completion of permanent Elizabeth line track in Whitechapel, east London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday September 14, 2017. The Elizabeth line will run from Reading and Heathrow in the west, through 42km of new tunnels under London to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east, adding 10 new stations and upgrading to 30 more to fully integrate new and existing infrastructure. See PA story TRANSPORT Crossrail. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Crossrail engineers walk alongside completed tracks as the Crossrail project celebrates the completion of permanent Elizabeth line track in Whitechapel, east London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday September 14, 2017. The Elizabeth line will run from Reading and Heathrow in the west, through 42km of new tunnels under London to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east, adding 10 new stations and upgrading to 30 more to fully integrate new and existing infrastructure. See PA story TRANSPORT Crossrail. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
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Some of those reading this may wonder why? Why would I be opposed to a system which penalises heavily polluting vehicles, such as buses and taxis? Especially buses, those rolling road blocks of the road.

Well, while bringing in charges for buses, HGVs, taxis and private hire vehicles that fail to meet the latest emissions standards (so, pretty much most of them) might sound like a good idea, in the final analysis, the logic behind this idea is fundamentally flawed. It is based on the assumption that by introducing charges, people will be encouraged to change their habits. But will the additional charge be sufficient to do this, or will it merely be an irritant, tolerated by the frequently targeted haulage industry and simply passed onto customers through higher fares by taxi firms? Likewise, bus firms are likely to find ways to pass on the charge to their customers, either that or depress wages for workers.

Meanwhile, technological advances in the use of clean energy buses are already well underway - Optare’s first electric double-decker went on trial in Leeds in September. It’s worth conceding any new clean air levy may accelerate such innovation but ultimately it will not change habits.

The council wants more people to cycle (never mind the weather) and to use park and ride schemes but for the majority, who have children to pick up, partners to drop off, shopping to get, elderly relatives to visit and a million other things, such options are neither use nor ornament.

The fear is, of course, that once such a clean air zone is established (affecting all rounds inside the outer ring road, no less), it will be extended to private vehicles, no doubt with a bewildering array of conditions/exemptions and so on.

I’ve said it before and I’ll keep on saying it: none of the ‘overland’ solutions has long term viability. The answer is right under our feet: the as-yet-unbuilt Leeds Underground, an ambitious project only for people with imagination, passion and vision (and, ahem, money). A mining firm is building a 37km tunnel from Whitby to Teeside, which proves tunnelling is both possible and profitable, as it would be for Leeds.

You can have your say on the plans HERE.

My Predictions for 2018

Wow, what a year 2017 was! But there’s no reason 2018 can’t be as momentous, so herewith my predictions...

Aliens will land

You’ve seen the three ‘softening up’ stories: the cigar-shaped meteor, Oumuamua, the discovery of solar system like ours in the Draco constellation and the revelation the Pentagon has a fund to investigate UFOs - the next logical step is for them is to come clean and admit aliens are real, they have a working Stargate and Elvis is still alive.

Film

Disney, who own all of the bits of our world which don’t belong to Google and facebook, will release another confusing glut of films with cross-over ‘universes’.

Science

I’m putting my money on levitation via sound wave technology. Either that or the horizontal portable toaster.

The Law

Cannabis, which has many reputed health benefits, will be legalised, as it has been in parts of the US, thus providing a new tax stream for the government and ridding parks and other public places of the stench of weed smoked by dopey teenagers.

Global warming

The theory beloved of the political left, atheists and anyone without a cause, will become more untenable, as people generally wake up to the fact we’ve all been conned into spending billions of pounds on something which isn’t happening.

Some of those reading this may wonder why? Why would I be opposed to a system which penalises heavily polluting vehicles, such as buses and taxis? Especially buses, those rolling road blocks of the road.

Well, while bringing in charges for buses, HGVs, taxis and private hire vehicles that fail to meet the latest emissions standards (so, pretty much most of them) might sound like a good idea, in the final analysis, the logic behind this idea is fundamentally flawed. It is based on the assumption that by introducing charges, people will be encouraged to change their habits. But will the additional charge be sufficient to do this, or will it merely be an irritant, tolerated by the frequently targeted haulage industry and simply passed onto customers through higher fares by taxi firms? Likewise, bus firms are likely to find ways to pass on the charge to their customers, either that or depress wages for workers.

Meanwhile, technological advances in the use of clean energy buses are already well underway - Optare’s first electric double-decker went on trial in Leeds in September. It’s worth conceding any new clean air levy may accelerate such innovation but ultimately it will not change habits.

The council wants more people to cycle (never mind the weather) and to use park and ride schemes but for the majority, who have children to pick up, partners to drop off, shopping to get, elderly relatives to visit and a million other things, such options are neither use nor ornament.

The fear is, of course, that once such a clean air zone is established (affecting all rounds inside the outer ring road, no less), it will be extended to private vehicles, no doubt with a bewildering array of conditions/exemptions and so on.

I’ve said it before and I’ll keep on saying it: none of the ‘overland’ solutions has long term viability. The answer is right under our feet: the as-yet-unbuilt Leeds Underground, an ambitious project only for people with imagination, passion and vision (and, ahem, money). A mining firm is building a 37km tunnel from Whitby to Teeside, which proves tunnelling is both possible and profitable, as it would be for Leeds.

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