Clean Air Zones Delayed Due to Coronavirus Lockdown
The introduction of Clean Air Zones (CAZs) has been delayed by the government in a number of UK cities including Birmingham and Leeds. The delays have been authorised in order to ease the travel of key workers such as emergency service staff and to allow local councils to focus their attention on tackling the ongoing pandemic.
CAZs are areas in cities where vehicles associated with higher air pollution levels – such as older diesel vehicles – are deterred from entering as there would be a daily cost associated with doing so. Birmingham, Bath and Leeds were due to introduce their own CAZs in the summer of 2020 but this has been postponed until January 2021 at the earliest; Oxford which had a zero-emissions zone planned for December has moved this until the summer of 2021 and plans to tighten the standards of the Low-Emissions Zone in London have been pushed back until 2021 from the original date of October 2020, this is in addition to the indefinite suspension of the congestion charge low emission zone and ultra-low emission zone. In Manchester, a consultation for a CAZ was due this summer but this has been halted and no replacement timeframe have been given as yet.
The current lockdown has led to decreased traffic in cities with air pollution levels being cut between 30-50% which likely contributed to the belief that the CAZ measures were not required immediately. A government spokeswoman said when revealing the delays that improving air quality remains a key priority for the UK while the Freight Transport Association and British Vehicle Rental & Leasing Association have expressed that the decision is welcomed.
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