Clean air zone waiting for green light

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.”

One of many buses that travel through Leeds city centre

One of many buses that travels through Leeds city centre

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.”

New Strategy

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.

City Leeds Council and Dearman at the National Air Quality Awards

City Leeds Council and Dearman at the National Air Quality Awards

“Good start”

Councillor Barry Anderson, member of the environment committee, told Leeds Hacks: “Overall I feel that this is a good start in addressing the issue of poor air quality in parts of the city. There are still a number of smaller areas of the city that do not currently comply, and there are no proposals or suggestions for mitigating their issues e.g. Pool in Wharfedale.

“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”

Most toxic city

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.

About the Author

This article was produced by a student or students on the BA in Journalism at Leeds Beckett University.

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