Which Major City Has Cancelled Its Clean Air Zone?

Wed 19th Aug 2020

The UK trend for clean air charging zones may be about to go into reverse after one local authority suspended its proposed scheme suggesting that the COVID-19 pandemic has helped improve air quality.

Leeds City Council has spent millions of taxpayers money preparing for the proposed clean air zone, but is withdrawing funding after claiming that the government is likely to withdraw its own funding due to the city having pollution levels within the legal limits.

The city’s Connecting Leeds project  was set to see the local transport infrastructure significantly improved, with new cycle lanes and pedestrian zones, in addition to charging a wide range of non-compliant vehicles for entering the city centre.

But in the apparent reversal, the Leeds City Council Deputy Leader James Lewis has explained in detail the decision to pause the scheme.

He said: “Leeds City Council is now working closely with central government to review the long term impact that the pandemic and these other factors will have on the city’s air quality to understand whether pollution will ever reach illegal levels.

“If the city’s air pollution is expected to stay below legal limits then we will no longer have the support of the government to introduce a charging Clean Air Zone. Given this uncertainty, our financial support will continue to be paused until the review is complete and we have received further direction.

“I recognise that at an already uncertain time, this latest update will be frustrating for many businesses. However, I would like to ask drivers and operators for their continued patience whilst we carry out this urgent review. I hope to be able to clarify the future of the Leeds CAZ in the Autumn.”

Birmingham and Bristol have also delayed their own similar schemes following the pandemic.