Plans for a clean air zone in Leeds have been revised after the city council listened to the concerns of businesses and fleet operators.
At a meeting of Leeds City Council’s executive board next week (Wednesday, June 27), members will be asked to approve entering into a period of statutory public consultation on both the clean air charging zone, the enforcement of anti-idling, the citywide clean air strategy and proposed changes to licensing conditions for taxis and private hire vehicles.
Fleet decision-makers, leasing companies and industry representatives met with Leeds City Council to discuss proposed regulations to tackle air quality issues earlier this year.
The roundtable, jointly hosted by British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA), Energy Saving Trust (EST), ACFO and Fleet News, raised a number of points that the council promised to take into consideration as part of its initial consultation.
Now, after receiving almost 9,000 responses to the first phase of consultation around draft plans for the city, the council has revised its plans after listening to the trades affected and the public.
They include a new, smaller boundary area – having listened to feedback from businesses across the city we have revised the charging zone area so as to lessen the economic impact on businesses but at the same time ensuring we retain the benefits of improved air quality areas across the city.
Furthermore there have been changes to daily charges, with a revised tariff for buses included in the latest proposals, after feedback from the initial consultation suggested a charge of £100 was too high.
At this time the council is proposing a charge for buses, coaches and HGVS of £50 a day and a charge of £12.50 a day for taxi and private hire vehicles, with a reduced weekly rate available for Leeds licensed drivers who choose to purchase this in advance.
There will also be a review of licensing conditions for the taxi and private hire trade in Leeds – a number of proposals and changes will be looked at including some ‘sunset periods’ for drivers that have recently bought new Euro 6 Vehicles and support and finance packages available to help assist the trade in the move to petrol hybrid and electric vehicles.
Councillor James Lewis, Leeds City Council executive board member for resources and sustainability, said: “The feedback we received in the first part of the consultation has been vital in helping us further shape the direction for the business case – including re-looking at lower charges for buses, and a smaller boundary.”
As part of the latest consultation, public and businesses will also be asked about what they believe the council should be doing post 2020 to address air pollution in the city. Whether this means car free days in the city, a low emission zone in the city centre or other innovative ideas.
The city council is also calling on the Government to provide the support packages for the trades affected to help ensure the success of the scheme without adversely affecting local businesses in the city.
Client Earth senior campaigner Andrea Lee said: “We’re looking forward to seeing the full plans from the city council and will be going over them carefully.
“Whatever they are, they will have to meet the legal test set out by the High Court as a result of our case against the UK government over illegal levels of air pollution.
“The Government’s own evidence shows that clean air zones are the quickest way to bring down illegal and harmful levels of air pollution as soon as possible.
“The UK Government is responsible for making sure that Leeds meets legal limits of air pollution in the shortest time possible. It not only needs to ensure that local plans are up to scratch but also needs to take action at a national level to help people move to cleaner forms of transport.
“This includes greater investment in public transport and targeted scrappage schemes with contributions from car manufacturers, which helped create the problem of illegal air pollution in the first place.”
To see the revised Leeds clean air zone, click here.