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Sheffield City Council to consult on Clean Air Zone plans, but cars will be exempt

Sheffield City Council to consult on Clean Air Zone plans, but cars will be exempt

Sheffield City Council has become the latest local authority to reveal proposals to create a chargeable Clean Air Zone for non-compliant high-polluting vehicles using the inner ring road, although cars will be exempt.

After government demanded a clean air feasibility study over high-polluting parts of Sheffield and Rotherham, businesses and residents are set to be consulted in the New Year over proposals that could see a charging system introduced on and within the inner ring road. The Clean Air Zone is likely to be introduced in 2020.

The charge will mean a single daily charge for heavily polluting buses, coaches, taxis, HGVs and vans and light goods vehicles (LGVs) to drive through the city. Vehicles that are older than Euro6 for diesel (2016) or Euro4 for petrol (2006) will be charged - £50 per day for buses, coaches and HGVs and £10 a day for vans, LGVs, taxis and private hire vehicles.

The City Council is asking for £40 million from government to support affected businesses and taxis upgrade their vehicles and to fund the installation of signs and cameras on the ring-road that will enable charges to be put in place.

A feasibility study’s findings suggested that a Clean Air Zone within the inner ring road, similar to ones proposed in Leeds, Glasgow and Southampton after government intervention, would be needed to bring the city’s air quality in line with legal levels by January 2021. NHS studies suggest that up to 500 people die per year in Sheffield for conditions connected to air pollution, according to the local authority.

Councillor Jack Scott, cabinet member for development and transport at the Council, said: “Air pollution is a major health problem and we know that people across the country including our children are breathing air that is not safe.

“The government is not taking this issue seriously at all. They have completely failed to give local councils the tools and resources we need, whilst forcing us to take the difficult decisions that are now needed because of their inaction.

“We have no desire to charge people but this issue is so serious that we have to take these actions to protect local people and save lives in Sheffield. If we want to make our air safer for people in Sheffield, we have to take these actions.

“Our intention is to remove the most polluting vehicles from our road network by encouraging drivers to upgrade to cleaner vehicles rather than pay the charge. We need funding from government to provide support, advice and finance to encourage people to upgrade their vehicles if required.

“We will support those affected with targeted investment to replace old, polluting vehicles with clean ones, but government must step up to the plate and give us the funding we need  as we know that this change will be difficult for many people. We will be looking for significant government investment not only to help us to implement this new system but also to give us enough funding to support the people affected to make the changes they need. Without this investment the ambitious plans we are bringing forward cannot be delivered.

“We’ll also implement a range of additional measures which enhance the work we’ve already been doing in encouraging active travel, stamping out idling outside our schools, retrofitting our buses and upgrading our taxi fleet.

“My vision is for air that is clean and safe for every single person in Sheffield. Achieving this is clearly a major piece of work. But the council can’t do it alone. As a city, we need to commit to lasting changes to protect our city’s vulnerable residents, particularly our children and older people, who are most at risk. Standing by whilst people become poorly and die is simply not an option.”