The government has ordered Coventry City Council to implement a Clean Air Zone (CAZ), which could see cars, taxis, buses and lorries having to pay a fee to drive into the city.
It comes as the city council’s £83million plan to cut pollution was rejected by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).
Coventry City Council has been under severe pressure to reduce its nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels as the city is forecast to exceed legal limits in 2021.
In March, the council sent their Local Air Quality Action Plan to the government in an effort to avoid having to implement a CAZ.
These proposals included the use of electric-powered taxis, retrofitting cleaner engines on 100 buses, introducing new walking and cycling routes, road closures and traffic restrictions.
However, this was insufficient for DEFRA, who have directed the council to implement a CAZ “as soon as possible”.
What is a Clean Air Zone?
Clean Air Zones are areas inside cities where polluting traffic would have to pay to enter – a congestion charge of sorts .
It comes as the government is looking to improve the air quality in major metropolitan areas.
Coventry is expected to have exceeded the legal limits of nitrogen dioxide in 2021 – and introducing the CAZ would be a bid to address the problem.
A CAZ can be applied to all vehicles, or particularly polluting vehicles – such as diesel engines, or older makes and models of car.
Costs can vary depending on vehicle – and it is decisions such as this that Coventry City Council will need to make by June 14, when they submit their revised plans to DEFRA.
Theoretically, the benefits of the CAZ would be twofold.
Fewer vehicles would likely travel into the CAZ, improving air quality .
What’s more, the money made from enforcing the CAZ is to be reinvested into local transport schemes – according to government guidelines.
As for how much motorists in Coventry can expect to pay, it is likely that these details will emerge in the coming weeks – as plans are likely to be in the very early stages at this time.
Where else can you expect to see a Clean Air Zone?
Coventry will not be the only city to implement a CAZ – or the first.
Leeds and Birmingham are leading the way in that regard, starting in 2020.
In Birmingham, the zone is set to be introduced from January 1.
The zone, which is at an advanced stage of planning, covers a large area of the city – on or inside the ring road – and motorists will be charged:
- £8 for private cars and taxis
- £50 for buses, coaches and HGVs
- Motorcycles and mopeds are believed to be exempt
Leeds have also received sign off for their plans by the government.
These plans, which will come into effect on January 6, 2020, will cover most of the city centre and the costs are:
- £12.50 for taxis (or £50 per week for Leeds-licensed vehicles)
- £50 for buses, coaches and HGVs
- No charge for private cars, vans, motorcycles and mopeds
In London meanwhile, there was already a low emission zone in place, but from April 8, the new Ultra Low Emission Zone was introduced.
Under this, motorists are charged:
- £12.50 for private cars, vans, motorcycles and mopeds
- £12.50 for taxis
- £100 for buses, coaches and HGVs
Currently this only covers central London and will be expanded to most of greater London in late 2021.
Meanwhile, Sheffield, Greater Manchester and Bath have been drawing up their own CAZ plans, with more set to follow.
Plans to introduce a CAZ are being drawn up in Oxford, while Southampton and York are looking at ways of introducing non-charging zones.
And plans to introduce a CAZ are being considered in Bristol, Derby and Cambridge among others.
Eight other councils have been told to produce plans to tackle pollutions levels – Bolsover, Bradford, Portsmouth, Broxbourne, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Stoke-on-Trent, Leicester and Liverpool.