Leeds City Council have finalised plans for the clean air zone scheme, which will be confirmed next week.
By Georgina Eastabrook
The radical programme’s intention is to reduce the amount of pollution in Leeds City Centre. This will be done by applying charges to HGVs, taxis, buses, coaches and private hire vehicles (PHVs) entering Leeds.
The council will be asking central government for £40million to cover the costs of launching the clean air zone scheme and if all goes to plan, it will be brought into Leeds by 2020.
HGVs, buses and coaches will be charged a total of £50 per day, which has been changed from a previously suggested £100 per day. Taxis and PHVs will also be charged, but at a much lower rate of £12.50 per day. However, for the locally licensed taxi drivers, a deal will be offered at £50 per week.
City centre bus driver Steve gave his opinion to Leeds Hacks: “I think it’s a stupid idea. It’s just the government’s way of getting more money. I won’t personally see the difference because it’s not me paying the fees, but I don’t see how it’ll change much at all.
“People are still going to get on buses, people are still going to drive into Leeds. There’s not really any way of stopping that.”
BVLRA (the UK’s leading company for the vehicle rental and leasing sector) Chief Executive Gerry Keaney doesn’t agree with the idea. According to an article by Mark Salisbury in Fleet Point, he said: “The decision to charge hauliers is short-sighted and very frustrating. It is an extra burden on operators who will have to pass costs on to the consumer.”
He adds: “Unlike cars and vans, HGV’s have no option to go electric.”
Leeds City Council and technology company Dearman have been trialling a new way to tackle HGV’s large amounts of pollution. Their project focuses on fuelling transport refrigeration units (TRUs), which are used in lorries, with liquid nitrogen rather than diesel.
TRUs are used to keep food and other goods cold whilst being transported, therefore Dearman’s invention could considerably reduce air pollution from lorries in Leeds. The trial predicts that this new technology could decrease air pollution emission each year by 19 tonnes.
At the National Air Quality Awards today, Leeds City Council received the Innovation in Air Quality Technology Award, for a project to produce zero emissions refrigeration unit vehicles.
“Only time will tell whether the measures work and we all amend/change our behaviours, otherwise more draconian measures will be needed and support for these will be difficult to achieve”
According to research conducted by GoodMove, a property buying site, Leeds has been ranked as the most toxic city in the UK. The city was likely to fail legal air quality levels by 2020, therefore the government instructed Leeds City Council to come up with a solution to tackle this issue.
The plans for the clean air zone will be confirmed next week at a meeting of the council’s executive board, and then submitted to the Government for final agreement.