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Sheffield's Clean Air Zone to launch in late 2022 to tackle deadly pollution

Councillors have backed a proposal to charge the most polluting buses, lorries and taxis – but private cars will be exempt.

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Air pollution contributes to 500 early deaths a year in Sheffield.

Tak-Kei Wong on Unsplash.

Councillors on Sheffield City Council's Co-operative Executive today gave the go-ahead for the launch of a Clean Air Zone (CAZ) to tackle toxic levels of pollution in the city.

The plans will see the most polluting buses, coaches and HGVs charged £50 a day to drive in the city centre, with LGVs and taxis charged £10 a day. Unlike in other cities, private cars and motorbikes will not be charged.

A council spokesperson told Now Then that the target date for the introduction of the CAZ was "late 2022."

“Clean air benefits us all and none more so than those who have to drive in it," said Cllr Douglas Johnson, the Green Party's Executive Member for Environment and Transport.

"It’s in our power to reduce air pollution, which means it’s in our power to save lives."

The daily charge will apply in the area surrounded by (and including) the inner ring road, as well as Park Square roundabout.

As part of the plans, £24 million of central government funding will be made available to help local businesses and taxi drivers upgrade to cleaner or zero-emissions vehicles.

A second consultation on the Clean Air Zone will take place in November, though this will focus on the support packages to help drivers upgrade rather than the overall project.

In a change to Sheffield's original proposals taxis will no longer need to be electric or ultra-low emissions to avoid the charge, but will need to have a Euro 6 Diesel or Euro 4 Petrol engine.

Like most other big UK cities Sheffield has illegal levels of air pollution, and the government has ordered the council to improve air quality as quickly as possible.

Air pollution contributes to 500 early deaths a year in Sheffield – more than the number of people who have died of coronavirus in the city since January.

Similar CAZs recently launched in Birmingham and London include private vehicles, though the Bath scheme doesn't. Manchester, Bristol, Bradford and Newcastle are all in the process of introducing a zone.

In the three months since Birmingham introduced their CAZ, levels of dangerous nitrogen dioxide have dropped by 20% in the city centre.

"We are absolutely committed to tackling the global climate emergency here in Sheffield, and this includes taking a bold step towards reducing harmful emissions in the city," said Labour Council Leader Terry Fox.

"Cleaner vehicles are better for the climate and better for our lungs."

Due to technical difficulties, Sheffield citizens were unable to watch a planned webcast of the Co-operative Executive meeting that approved the proposals.

by Sam Gregory (he/him)

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