Leeds Council hands £1.5m of clean air grants back to Government after scheme scrapped

More than £1.5m to help reduce air pollution has been handed back to the Government this week by Leeds City Council.

Wednesday, 25th August 2021, 11:45 am

The money was originally part of £29m of funding given to the authority to introduce a clean air charging zone – including a network of number plate recognising cameras and a grant and loans scheme to help taxi drivers update to eco-friendly vehicles.

Despite the scheme being announced in an attempt to combat dangerous levels of air pollution in the city, it was dramatically scrapped in autumn 2020, due to a supposed improvement in the district’s air quality.

Some of the money remained available to help support upgrades of taxis, buses and HGVs to greener models.

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The scheme was dramatically scrapped in autumn 2020, due to a supposed improvement in the district’s air quality.

This week, council decision-makers agreed to return the unspent £1,538,269 to central Government, meaning around £27.5m was spent on a clean air scheme which never happened.

The plans would have seen high-emitting taxis, HGVs and buses charged a fee for entering the city centre and parts of north Leeds, but had been beset with delays since they were first signed off by the Government in 2019.

Around £18m of the money was earmarked to go to taxi and HGV drivers in loans and grants to help them upgrade to greener vehicles.

On making the announcement about the scheme’s cancellation last year, the council said it would be able to keep and re-purpose the camera infrastructure that had been installed to monitor and enforce the zone.

It added grants and interest-free loans would still be available to help local businesses switch to cleaner vehicles as well as to provide free licensing costs to drivers of less polluting taxi and private hire cars.

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