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City centre Clean Air Zone: Council consults on new pollution scheme

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The Council plan to introduce a Clean Air Zone in January 2021.

The Council have today opened a consultation on plans to introduce a Clean Air Zone (CAZ) in Sheffield.

The CAZ would see the most polluting vehicles charged for entering the city centre. The levy will apply to buses, lorries, vans and taxis but does not cover private vehicles. Similar schemes such as the ULEZ in London include private vehicles.

Taxis and vans with older and more polluting engines will have to pay £10 a day to enter the zone. Buses and lorries without Euro 6 Diesel engines will pay £50 a day.

"This is the start of a vitally important conversation for the city and we want everyone to have their say on the clean air zone and the support that is available," said Cabinet Member for Planning and Development Bob Johnson.

The CAZ is the wrong answer to the wrong question

"We know air pollution damages the health of us all, especially the very young and the very old, but we need to balance this with how we can support drivers with the cost of reducing their emissions."

Like most other British cities, Sheffield has illegal levels of air pollution. The Council are currently aiming to introduce the CAZ in January 2021, but this could be dependent on securing funding from central government.

Graham Turnbull of the group Clean Air For Sheffield has criticised the proposals.

"The CAZ is the wrong answer to the wrong question," he told Now Then. "The EU target was to bring NO2 levels down below 40 ug/m3 by 1 January 2010.

"The UK government has kicked this problem into the long grass for so long that we are no longer over the legal limits for NO2 at the places where central government and the Council are measuring it.

"My concern is that we will spend £40 million on installing a CAZ when the objective has already been met," he continued. "If we are going to have such a scheme, it makes no sense to exclude private cars.

"If the goal is in fact to improve air quality this could be better done by using workplace parking levies, improvements to public transport through zero emissions buses, segregated cycle lanes, and safer streets for pedestrians with zebra crossings and school road closures."

Birmingham and Leeds have recently delayed their own clean air zones. Both Councils blame a central government delay in providing the monitoring technology.

The Sheffield consultation closes on 25 August.

Sam Gregory

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The proposed Clean Air Zone.

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