Leeds Clean Air Zone: 11 months to go

For ten years London has successfully operated a Low Emission Zone and a Congestion Zone and as of 8 April 2019 the new London Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) will start to operate in what is a gradual plan to reduce the pollutants on London roads.

Outside of London, five British cities have been selected to introduce Clean Air Zones (CAZ) by 1st January 2020.  Less than 12 months from now. Leeds, Birmingham, Nottingham, Derby, and Southampton have been targeted because of their dangerous levels of air pollution. A further 23 local authorities have pollution levels that are expected to reach illegal levels by 2021. If your business requires you to drive into any of these cities you will need to start making preparations now if you don’t already run vehicles above either Euro 4 petrol engines or Euro 6 diesel engine.

Leeds City Council is well underway with the planned introduction of emission zones and is looking at a range of other ways they can improve the air quality.

Starting from within, Leeds City Council has already begun replacing its older vehicles with a new compliant fleet and forecast that they will soon have the largest ULEV fleet of any local authority in the country.

The Clean Air Zone itself has been mapped and charges defined; under the current proposals, the Clean Air Zone will follow the boundary of Leeds outer ring road, and down to the M621 in the south of the city.

Charges will only apply to buses, coaches, heavy goods vehicles (HGVs), taxis and private hire vehicles that drive within the CAZ. At the moment there are 500 taxis and more than 4,000 private hire vehicles in Leeds, 86% of which are diesel, 6% petrol and the remainder electric hybrid and gas/biofuel.

Under the current proposals, all vehicles below either Euro 4 petrol engines or Euro 6 diesel engine standard, will be affected by the Clean Air Zone. Any above this standard, including petrol-hybrid and electric vehicles, will be exempt. All vehicles with historic tax class (over 40 years old) will also be exempt.

Out of town vehicles will also be required to meet the CAZ engine standards or will be charged. DEFRA is developing a national database of Taxi and Private Hire vehicles in order to allow this to happen.

Vehicles that do not meet the minimum engine standards will need to pay a daily charge as follows:

Taxi and private hire – £12.50

Buses/Coaches – £50

HGVs – £50

The council is hoping to secure funding from the government’s £220m Clean Air Fundto provide help businesses pay to upgrade their vehicles. Companies operating HGVs and coaches could be given up to £19,000 to help with retrofitting equipment to reduce emissions. Taxi and private hire drivers will be given grants of between £1,500-£3,000 to convert to hybrid and electric vehicles.

Leeds City Council is undertaking a series of other measures to help meet the new environmental standards. The funding for these additional measures is expected to largely come from central government. The Leeds Public Transport Improvement Programme (LPTIP) is a £173.5m programme working to make improvements to the bus and rail networks that will reduce congestion and emissions. The plans include:

  •  Implementing a new Leeds High-Frequency Bus Network
  • An additional investment of £71m by the First group to provide 284 brand new, and environmentally clean buses with free wi-fi and contact-less payments, which will achieve close to a 90% reduction in NOx emissions by 2020.
  • Developing three new rail stations for key development and economic hubs serving Leeds Bradford Airport, Thorpe Park and White Rose.
  • 1000 more bus stops
  • Making three more rail stations accessible at Cross Gates, Morley, and Horsforth.
  • Creating 21st Century interchanges around Vicar Lane, the Headrow and Infirmary Street and improved facilities in our district centres.

If you would like any advice on a strategy to upgrade your fleet to avoid charges and penalties, get in touch with us today.