CHARGES could be levied on polluting vehicles entering Sheffield city centre under new council plans to improve air quality.
The speed limit on part of the M1 could also be cut.
Officials say traffic emissions need to be reduced by a quarter for air quality in the city to reach safe levels.
Sheffield Council is set to approve an Air Quality Action Plan to address levels of toxic gases in the atmosphere, mainly produced by lorries and buses.
The Star revealed the problem not only affects areas near the motorway but also leafy suburbs including Broomhill.
Failure to reach EU air quality standards by 2015 could see the city fined millions of pounds.
In a report to be considered by Sheffield Council’s cabinet tomorrow, air quality officer Ogo Osammor said: “The main aim is to reduce nitrogen dioxide and fine particulate pollution across the urban area in order to achieve air quality targets and protect health.”
Among measures proposed are a City Centre Low Emission Zone, similar to London, which would see drivers in the city centre having to pay if their vehicles exceeded pollution limits.
Mr Osammor said the zone would cost £150,000 to set up, and was being discussed with bus and haulage firms, whose vehicles cause much of the pollution.
The council would also lobby the Government for a variable speed limit – enforced by speed cameras – to be introduced on the M1 near Tinsley.
The report says pollution causes 500 premature deaths and costs the city £95 million in health costs each year.