Leeds City Council has been given final approval and more than £29m in funding from the government to implement a Clean Air Charging Zone in the city and to support businesses affected.
The Clean Air Charging Zone rules will apply only to businesses, and are intended to reduce air pollution in Leeds by encouraging businesses to transition to cleaner, less polluting vehicles not subject to charges for driving within the zone boundary. It is set to go live from the 6th January next year.
Only owners of the worst polluting HGVs, coaches, buses, taxis and private hire vehicles will be subject to charges. Private cars, vans or motorcycles will not be charged.
To help businesses based within the zone boundary transition to cleaner vehicles and avoid daily charges, the government has confirmed that £23 million of the £29 million total funding will be available to support affected businesses.
Cllr James Lewis, executive member with responsibility for sustainability and the environment said: “Having now received the green light from the government, our priority is to ensure the successful delivery of the Clean Air Charging Zone as required by Ministerial Direction over the next fifty weeks.
“Businesses that are likely to be affected need to look at the vehicles they operate and begin their final preparations for the introduction of the zone.
“We recognise that this will be a difficult transition for some businesses to make. We have not received the full amount of funding that we asked the government for; however, we are pleased to confirm today that a number of significant financial support packages will be available to assist owners of affected vehicles. We will be working hard to make sure this money is available swiftly.
“Leeds City Council will not make money from these charges. Charge revenue will only be used to cover the costs of operating the CAZ, to support owners of affected vehicles, and for other schemes to improve air quality in the city.”
The plans come after the government instructed Leeds City Council to tackle air pollution in Leeds as soon as possible after finding that parts of the city would likely fail legal air quality levels by 2020.
Evidence shows that spending time in areas with high levels of air pollution can worsen symptoms of asthma, damage lungs and reduce life expectancy.