Leeds City Council is reminding residents and commuters to have their say on proposals to reduce air pollution and protect the health of people in the city before a public consultation closes on March 2.
Almost 7000 people have already shared their views on proposals which include a new ‘Clean Air Zone’ that would charge buses, HGVs, taxis and private hire vehicles that fail to meet the latest emissions standards for entering. Under the plans, private vehicles of any age would not be charged.
The proposed zone would cover all roads within the outer ring road with the M1 and M62 as the south-eastern boundary but would not include vehicles that divert around the outer ring road, motorways; or vehicles which cross the city using the M621.
In Leeds, outdoor air pollution comes primarily from vehicle exhaust fumes, and in particular from older diesel vehicles.
The consultation comes after the government instructed the council to outline plans to tackle air pollution in the city after identifying Leeds as being likely to fail legal air quality levels by 2020.
Evidence shows that spending time in areas with high levels of air pollution can worsen asthma symptoms, damage lung function and is linked with an estimated 40,000 premature deaths in the UK every year.
Public responses to the consultation will shape the council’s final air quality proposal which will be presented to the government later in the year.
The final proposal will need to allow the city to comply with national air quality levels in the shortest possible timescale whilst considering the overall impact on Leeds—including financial impacts, inequality and the displacement of emissions to other areas.
The key areas that the council are consulting on are:
- Introducing a Clean Air Zone covering roads within the outer ring road (with the M1 and M62 as the south-eastern boundary) that would charge buses, HGVs, taxis and private hire vehicles which fail to meet the latest emissions standards for vehicles (Euro 6 standard). The zone would not include vehicles that divert around the outer ring road or motorways.
- Raising the emissions standard of taxi and private hire vehicles to ultra-low-emission vehicles and seeking funding to assist local drivers with the cost of replacing vehicles.
- A number of other clean air proposals that would work alongside the Clean Air Zone to help the city achieve compliance with legal air quality levels in the shortest possible timescale. These include exploring support packages to work with businesses and residents to increase the adoption of ultra-low emission vehicles, raising awareness of air pollution and actions that individuals can take, and work alongside the transport strategy to encourage people to shift their choice of transport.
To support businesses affected by the introduction of a Clean Air Zone, the council is exploring a number of fleet-specific packages to provide financial support to help businesses make the transition to cleaner vehicles.
Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, Leeds City Council executive board member with responsibility for sustainability and the environment said:
“Reducing air pollution in Leeds is vital for the health of our city, so it’s fantastic to see that almost 7000 people have already shared their views on this important issue.
“I would urge everyone who hasn’t yet taken part to have their say on our plans for a charging clean air zone and other proposals to reduce air pollution before the consultation closes on Friday, March 2.
“The comments we receive as part of this consultation will help us provide a rounded proposal to submit to government later this year and ensure we are asking for support in the right areas, making sure we have the right funding to deliver the best possible proposal for Leeds.”
What we are already doing in Leeds to combat air pollution:
- Leading the way in transitioning our fleet of vehicles to ultra-low or zero-emissions vehicles. Currently, Leeds City Council has more low emissions vehicles than any other local authority in England.
- Developing Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) infrastructure for the city which will enable our own fleet (including refuse vehicles) to switch to CNG as well as helping commercial fleet operators do the same.
- Encouraging drivers to switch to ultra-low emissions vehicles by offering residents free parking for ULEVS in the city centre at council car parks and supporting the development of charge points across the city for electric vehicles.
- Focusing on encouraging greater use of public transport with major investments in bus and rail infrastructure including new rail stations and park and ride facilities as part of a new multi-million-pound transport strategy outlined in December 2016.
- Two park and ride sites are already operating successfully in the city, one at Elland Road, that has been extended, and the other at Temple Green. The two sites have saved a total of over 350,000 car journeys into the city to date.
- Operator First West Yorkshire has pledged to invest £71m to provide 284 new state-of-the-art buses for its Leeds fleet by the end of 2020 as part of the new transport strategy, supporting the aim of improving air quality across the city. They have just introduced the first double-decker electric bus as a trial in the city.
- Encouraging alternatives to car use, including phase one of a new Cycle Superhighway through the city which is now open and plans for phase two being developed. This has been funded through £40m from the Department for Transport along with.
- In partnership with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Leeds City Council were successful in gaining funding to install a network of electric vehicle charge points across the West Yorkshire region for use by the taxi and private hire trade.
- Leeds City Council is part of project ACCRA that will assess the operational ability of hybrid vehicles to automatically switch to zero emission mode when they are in an area of poor air quality. The initial work on this project includes fitting Leeds City Council electric vehicles with air quality monitors so that we can develop a greater level of details of pollution along our roads and develop the mechanism for this to be fed into onboard computers that will use this data to automatically shift to zero emission mode when required.
- Leeds secured £150,000 in partnership with Dearman Ltd to investigate the potential to reduce the impact of refrigerated transport on air quality in Leeds. The Transport Refrigeration Units (TRU’s) used in such vehicles are usually diesel powered and are not subject to the same regulations as other vehicle engines. This project can demonstrate how NOx emitted from these units can be eradicated from the chilled goods supply chain.
- Leeds City Council is working with WYCA to bid for the next round of the Clean Bus Technology Fund, to deliver further improvements to improve bus emissions, with up to £3m available per authority with a focus on ensuring all buses entering Leeds will be fully compliant with Clean Air Zone standards.
The consultation is open until March 2 and can be found at www.leeds.gov.uk/airqualityconsultation.