'Too many cars in city centre': Plans for Clean Air Zone in Sheffield under discussion
Air quality in Sheffield continues to improve - but there are still ‘too many cars in the city centre’, a top councillor has said.
Coun Douglas Johnson said there was also a problem with buses and taxis idling creating hotspots, like Arundel Gate interchange.
Councillors were still required to implement a Clean Air Zone (CAZ) but wanted to protect businesses too, he added.
Plans to charge lorries and taxis £10 to travel on and inside the inner ring road were halted in September due to the pandemic. In March, the city council said a review of the scheme was ‘nearing completion’.
Coun Johnson, the new executive member for Climate Change, Environment and Transport, gave an update but no date.
He said: “The Government has been badly in breach of its legal duties for many years now. We want to clean up the air in Sheffield and also protect those local businesses with an essential need for travel.
“However, it is clear we need a step change in air quality, which contributes to around 500 early deaths a year in Sheffield as well as to excessive carbon emissions.
“As things stand, we are still required to take steps to implement a CAZ charging zone.
“We are therefore looking at precisely what steps need to be taken. Air quality continues to improve, partly because newer vehicles are cleaner but also because of actions the council has already taken, such as the recent electric van trials, new EV charging points, traffic reduction and schemes like Grey to Green, anti-idling campaigns and school streets.
“However, there are still too many cars in the city centre. We still have a problem with buses and taxi idling. This means there are still problematic hotspots like Arundel Gate interchange.
“The challenge is whether the government is prepared to fund what we need to clean up the air and support the change to cleaner vehicles and better air quality across Sheffield.”
Last month the authority disputed claims that air pollution at Devonshire Green was worse than before the pandemic.
Researchers from environmental consultancy Ricardo Energy & Environment found levels at Devonshire Green to be 25 per cent higher than pre-lockdown.
However, the council produced its own evidence to show that air pollution was 21 per cent down on pre-pandemic figures.