City Centre Clean Air Zone
- New ‘Clean Air Zone’ proposal could be in place by start of 2021.
- Buses, coaches and lorries face £50 tolls.
- Taxi and van drivers could be affected.
City councillors have approved a scheme to tax vehicles entering the city centre from next January.
The move could see buses, coaches and lorries not meeting emissions standards face £50 tolls, with some taxis and vans hit by £12.50 charges.
The proposals are a result of a Government-driven initiative demanding that local councils find ways of cutting illegal levels of traffic nitrogen dioxide pollution. The plans will need the approval of Gateshead and North Tyneside councils, before submission to the Government later this month for a final say.
The clean air zone measures will not affect traffic pollution hotspots like the West Road, Coast Road or Gosforth High Street and private vehicles will be exempt until at least 2022.
Council leader, Cllr Nick Forbes, said the local authority’s preferred option of tackling traffic pollution through improvements in public transport had not been possible because of restrictions placed on it by central government. The Council was left with no option but to propose a scheme “telling people where they can’t go at particular times of the day”.
The proposal was criticised by the Liberal Democrat opposition on the Council, with Cllr Gareth Kane saying that one of its effects would be to push polluting traffic into residential areas, resulting in serious public health impacts in deprived communities.
The plans were supported by 41 councillors present at the January full Council meeting. Two voted against, 11 abstained and 24 were absent. Full details of the proposal, which followed an extensive public consultation last year, can be found on the City Council website.
Other ideas proposed by the Council to tackle traffic pollution include the roll-out of a ‘school streets’ initiative to improve air quality near schools, public transport priority routes and ‘mitigation and support measures including grants’ for affected businesses and individuals.