Newcastle and Gateshead councils lay out visions for Clean Air Zones

Newcastle and Gateshead councils have put forward plans to launch a Clean Air Zone (CAZ) later this year, with enforcing measures beginning from November.

Warning letters would be sent to non-compliant drivers entering the zone along with details about financial assistance, before charges for taxis, buses and HGVs would be introduced in January 2023, subject to government approval.

Non-compliant vans would not face charges, subject to government approval, until July 2023, in response to the national LGV supply shortage preventing small businesses from upgrading their vehicles.

This timeline would still allow the authorities to achieve national air quality targets in 2023, after the region was served a legal order from government after data showed air pollution is some areas was above legal limits.

white bridge over body of water during daytime

Cllr Jane Byrne, cabinet member for a connected, clean city at Newcastle City Council, said: ‘Improving air quality is a big priority as this has such a significant impact on everyone’s health.

‘We have a legal order from government which means we have to introduce the Clean Air Zone in order to achieve this improvement, but we also need to recognise the potential impact this could have on local businesses and ensure they have support.

‘By introducing charging on a phased basis we would be able to give businesses more opportunity to prepare while still achieving air quality compliance in 2023.

‘In addition to the Clean Air Zone we will also continue to invest in other clean air initiatives, such as School Streets.’

The CAZ will cover most of Newcastle city centre, including routes over the Tyne, Swing, High Level and Redheugh bridges.

Van drivers will have the opportunity to apply for grant funding to help replace vehicles before facing CAZ charges, while private cars, motorbikes and vehicles meeting CAZ standards will not be charged.

The proposals have been sent to government for ministerial approval, while cabinet members of Newcastle and Gateshead councils will agree to timescales this July.

They will also consider further exemptions for a small number of vehicles, including rail replacement coaches, bus and HGV driver training vehicles, breakdown recovery vehicles, hybrid vehicles and taxis and vans belonging to people within the CAZ zone.

£18.2m of grant funding from the government will be offered for taxi, van and HGV upgrades and a separate fund of £1.7m will be awarded to bus operators by the council.

Photo by Ryan Booth


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