North East councils to consider Clean Air Zones and toll roads

Councillors in Newcastle, Gateshead and North Tyneside will seek views on how a Clean Air Zone could work in their regions, as well as other measures aimed at curbing air pollution.

The government has ordered action from the three authorities to improve air quality by 2021 and told them they must consider the introduction of a Clean Air Zone (CAZ).

The three councils have tested different levels of charging CAZ to assess the likely impact on air quality and their results suggested that even the highest level of CAZ would not be enough on its own to address the problem.

However, the councils say they want to ensure any measures ‘avoids a negative impact on the local economy, business and those on lower incomes’.

They have suggested that under a charging Clean Air Zone, charges would be per day and could be around £50 for lorries, buses and coaches and £12.50 for vans, taxis and cars.

They are also considering introducing tolls on the three main road bridges over the Tyne — the Tyne, Swing and Redheugh bridges.

Under a system of tolls, charges would apply to all lorries, vans and cars regardless of their emissions. Buses and taxis would not be required to pay.

Any tolls on bridges would be charged per journey and could be around £3.40 for lorries and £1.70 for vans and cars, which is in line with the charges people are already used to paying to use the Tyne Tunnel.

Other measures being considered include a Low Emission Zone where lorries, buses and taxis that do not meet minimum emissions requirements could be banned from entering Newcastle City Centre at certain times.

Non-charging measures to support people and businesses affected by potential charges are also being considered which could include financial support or scrappage schemes to help people upgrade their vehicles or help for people on lower incomes to switch to public transport.

The consultation will be open to all residents, workers, students and businesses in and around the area from March 6 until May 17.


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