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Clearing the air: Consultation results released

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Sheffield City Council plan to introduce a Clean Air Zone in early 2021.

Sheffield City Council have released the results of a consultation into the city's air quality.

The survey shows that four out of five people think that air quality should be a Council priority. 11,875 people responded to the consultation.

"On days of poor air pollution, we see more people having asthma attacks, heart attacks and strokes," said Director of Public Health Greg Fell. "Poor air quality is being linked with other diseases, including dementia - it's something we can't ignore."

The Council plan to introduce a Clean Air Zone (CAZ) in the city centre in early 2021. This would see buses, taxis, vans and lorries that don't meet emissions standards charged for entering the zone. Unlike in London, the charge will not cover private cars.

It is essential that we look to improve public transport, especially bus journeys

Similar schemes in Birmingham and Leeds have been postponed due to technology delays from central government. Sheffield City Council told Now Then that they are currently negotiating with the government on the go-live date.

50% of respondents to the consultation said that the zone, which broadly corresponds with the inner ring road, was in the right area. 29% disagreed, with most thinking it should cover a wider area.

Some of the most highly polluted roads in the city, including Queens Road and London Road, will fall outside the zone.

"The survey results show that the zone is not the only way to reduce pollution," said Cabinet Member for Transport and Sustainability Bob Johnson.

"It is essential that we look to improve public transport, especially bus journeys. We also need to change our streets to promote walking and cycling."

69% of businesses that responded to the consultation think that the CAZ will have a negative impact on them. But 61% of businesses with more than 250 staff think it will have a positive impact. Only 12% of businesses said that they would avoid the zone.

Taxi drivers are more sceptical of the plans, with only 56% agreeing that the Council should be making efforts to reduce air pollution.

95% of Sheffield's taxis will need to be upgraded to avoid paying the charge. 20% of taxi drivers said they would just pay the daily charge and work more to cover it.

It's vital that we get investment from central government to assist local businesses and taxis to upgrade their fleets

"The survey results show that people want to see action taken - but if we're going to be successful in reducing pollution we need to help taxi drivers and local small businesses move to cleaner vehicles," said Cllr Johnson.

"It's vital that we get investment from central government to assist local businesses and taxis to upgrade their fleets."

According to Fell, the survey shows that Sheffield residents believe that public transport, walking and cycling are "better alternatives" to cars.

"These bring benefits of not only reduced emissions, but extra physical activity and reduced exposure to air pollution - which is often worse inside a vehicle than outside."

Sam Gregory

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