Leeds low carbon zone charging most polluting vehicles among ideas in new transport strategy
Currently out to public consultation, the draft Connecting Leeds Transport Strategy sets out options that the council may need to consider in order to become a city where cars are not a necessity and everyone has access to affordable, zero carbon methods of travel.
It includes a low carbon zone, similar to the Ultra-Low Emission Zone in London, that would make the most polluting vehicles subject to the greatest charges based on carbon dioxide emissions.
Leeds City Council had previously begun work on a clean air zone (CAZ) in order to meet a government requirement to tackle illegal levels of air pollution in the city. It would have seen high-emitting taxis, HGVs and buses charged a fee for entering the city centre and parts of north Leeds, but was beset with delays.
The plans were abandoned altogether in October after changes in activity during the pandemic brought pollution levels back within safe limits, meaning further government funding would no longer be provided.
Coun Lisa Mulherin, executive member for climate change, transport and sustainable development, said any new low carbon scheme would be able to make use of the cameras and infrastructure that had been put in place for the CAZ.
But she stressed this was just one idea within the wider strategy and there was no set formula for how the city should de-carbonise transport - one of six 'big moves' contained within the strategy.
The strategy itself aims to transform the way people move around the city, with objectives include tackling climate change and improving health
She added: "This is a public consultation so this is to get feedback and to see if the public have other suggestions they would like us to consider."
When it comes to de-carbonising transport, the strategy focuses on reducing the need to travel by better planning where amenities are developed; encouraging greater use of public transport, walking or cycling rather than higher carbon emitting modes such as cars, and shifting away from fossil fuels such as petrol and diesel to alternative fuels,
Work that has already begun includes an initiative to plant 5.8 million trees across the city over the next 25 years to help capture carbon and the creation of a separate alternative fuel strategy. The council now also has the largest electric vehicle fleet of any local authority.
Looking ahead, the strategy says the council will trial new technology including on street electric vehicle charging points, work to improve access to services closer to home, and make low carbon mobility choices available throughout Leeds by serving the routes and locations people need.
And it says further actions that may been to be considered are ways to incentivise use of low carbon public transport, recognising that affordability is a key factor.
The public consultation comes a year on from the launch of the Yorkshire Evening Post's Unlock the Gridlock campaign, which set out five key transport priorities in response to concerns consistently raised by readers about the congestion and unreliable public transport networks that were blighting their lives on a daily basis.
It will run until March 26, before the feedback from the public and other stakeholders is reviewed. An updated strategy is then expected to be published in early summer.
Visit leedstransportstrategy.commonplace.is/ to learn more about the proposals, read the draft strategy in full or make comments.
Support the YEP and become a subscriber today. Enjoy unlimited access to local news and the latest on Leeds United. With a digital subscription, you see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Click here to subscribe.