Have your say on city Clean Air Zone

Roy Morris

Wednesday, 19th December 2018, 5:44 am
Updated Wednesday, 19th December 2018, 5:58 am
Car exhaust fumes

Green Party, (S10)

As reported in the Star, Sheffield City Council is proposing a city centre Clean Air Zone (CAZ) which would charge buses, taxis, lorries and vans for entry into the zone. Low- emission vehicles and private cars would be exempt.

The Green Party has always campaigned on the dangers of vehicle emissions which contain nitrogen oxides and particulates which have been proved to worsen the risk of asthma, lung and heart diseases, strokes and Alzheimer's and cause 500 early deaths in Sheffield alone.

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We are really pleased the council are proposing this, but have several concerns:

The council is asking the government for £40 million to set up the scheme and support vehicle conversion. We are in favour of the scheme, but only if it receives sufficient government funding.

The aim of the CAZ is and should be to encourage the purchase of cleaner vehicles, not to make money for the council.

However, any funds created by the zone must be ring-fenced and publicly accounted to show they are being put to good use to improve public transport.

Taxi drivers are justifiably worried by the effect on their livelihoods and must receive help to buy cleaner vehicles to minimise the risk to their jobs and the service they provide.

An underfunded CAZ which ends up increasing bus and taxi fares would be a disaster for hard-pressed travellers and for the future of our ailing public transport.

Above all, it could reduce public support for measures to make our environment more healthy.

The scheme would be a positive start but would only partially solve the problem. It would be more accurate to call it a Cleaner Air Zone.

The bottom line is that there are too many vehicles on our roads and queuing is a big waste of time and petrol money. The only long-term solution is to make it cheaper and easier for people to use public transport.

If the CAZ doesn't bring sufficient air quality improvements, the council might be forced to consider further measures such as inclusion of private vehicles in the scheme, higher parking charges, a workplace parking levy, charging for parking in supermarket and shopping centres or the extension of the supertram network. Those measures would be justified if they are what it takes to make the city centre's air fit to breathe.

We really need to get travellers back on the buses and to encourage this, we need a properly integrated transport system with cheaper, cleaner, faster bus services reaching all parts of the city.

Be sure to have your say on the Clean Air Zone consultation when it comes out.