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Sheffield's Clean Air Zone delayed again until 2023

As well as pushing back the start date, the Council have announced new support for businesses to upgrade to cleaner vehicles.

City centre the parkway roads traffic

Traffic on the Parkway entering what will become the Clean Air Zone from 2023.

Rachel Rae Photography

The launch date for Sheffield's Clean Air Zone, which could save thousands of lives across the city, has been pushed back again as the Council announces new support to help businesses adapt.

The project, which will charge the most polluting lorries, vans, taxis and buses entering the city centre, is now due to go live "from early 2023."

In October last year Sheffield City Council told Now Then that the target date for launch was late 2022 but this has now been delayed, with an exact start date expected later this year.

"The early 2023 ‘go-live’ date for the CAZ takes into account up-to-date timescales associated with the installation of infrastructure, mobilisation and testing to ensure a successful launch," a Council spokesperson told Now Then.

"Our detailed implementation programme has been developed as part of our ongoing liaison with the government’s Joint Air Quality Unit and represents the shortest possible time for implementation."

Air pollution contributes to around 500 deaths a year in Sheffield, by increasing the risk of lung cancer, cardiovascular disease and stroke.

According to the European Environment Agency, air pollution is "a major cause of premature death and disease, and is the single largest environmental health risk in Europe." Worldwide, the WHO estimate that dirty air kills 4.2 million people every year.

As well as a new target date, the Council also said they hope to offer more financial support for local businesses to upgrade to cleaner vehicles and avoid the charge.

This includes increasing the maximum grant for van owners upgrading to a Euro 6 diesel or Euro 4 petrol engine to £4,000 (an increase of £3,000), or up to £5,000 to upgrade to an electric vehicle (an increase of £1,500).

There could also be bigger grants available for the owners of black cabs, private hire vehicles, HGVs, buses and coaches, but the proposals will need to be approved by central government.

The Council spokesperson said the increased grants would come out of the £20.4m already allocated to Sheffield and Rotherham for their clean air zones, as well as another £7.99m from the government.

“We’ve heard what you have to say: clean air is important to you, but you’re worried about the cost," said Council Leader Terry Fox.

"That’s why we’re asking government to approve our plans to increase the available funding, including tripling the maximum grant available for replacement vans, to make cleaner vehicles more affordable."

When the zone launches, older and more heavily-polluting vans and taxis will be charged £10 per day to enter a zone covering the inner ring-road and city centre, while coaches, buses and HGVs will pay £50.

Unlike similar zones in London and Birmingham, cars will be exempt from the charge.

The outcome of local elections in Sheffield on 5 May could influence the future of the Clean Air Zone – some Green councillors including Maroof Raouf have suggested they would like to see the most polluting cars charged as well.

The aim is to incentivise businesses and taxi drivers to upgrade to cleaner vehicles, which will help bring Sheffield's illegal levels of air pollution within legal limits.

“During two consultations, the people of Sheffield have told us that we should prioritise taking action to clean the air," said Cllr Douglas Johnson, Executive Member for Climate Change, Environment and Transport.

"Over the next year, drivers of the most polluting vehicles will be faced with a choice: use the support we are offering to upgrade to a cleaner vehicle; or pay to pollute."

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