Thousands of people took part in Sheffield Council’s Clean Air Zone (CAZ) consultation between November and December last year.
In a recently published document on the council’s full business case – which will be sent to government in April – the authority reported that most businesses said they were planning to divert journeys around the CAZ, or at least reduce the number of journeys in the zone, and even relocate their business outside of it rather than upgrade to compliant vehicles.
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It added that these responses were more common than during a consultation on earlier CAZ proposals in 2019.
Council officers added: “The consultation highlighted legitimate and real concerns of business affected by the CAZ and generates concerns that the package, particularly for private hire vehicles and large goods vehicles, would not result in the replacement of non-compliant vehicles but rather changes that would potentially displace traffic to more residential routes outside of the CAZ or see avoidance of the city centre with economic repercussions for the commercial heart of the city as it looks to recover from Covid.”
What is the council doing to mitigate the impacts?
The council said it will monitor a number of key locations throughout the life of the scheme for impacts arising from the zone and put measures in place if displacement is worse than expected.
In response to concerns about the CAZ leading to a reduction in city centre footfall the council said the scheme was “an important element of our plans to boost the city centre and add vibrancy”.
Officers added: “Clean air is vital to making the city centre an attractive place for a variety of people to live, helping to create genuine communities…
“It is accepted that in implementing the CAZ to meet our legal requirements there will be an impact on individuals and businesses that operate certain vehicles that currently don’t meet the CAZ compliance requirements and without change will become subject to charges.
“Ensuring sufficient time in advance of the CAZ going live for people to respond, and consider upgrades or alternatives to their vehicles, is important and providing financial assistance for people that regularly drive into the CAZ is essential.”
Has the council improved its support packages?
In light of the feedback, the council slightly improved its maximum support packages for some vehicles and doubled or more than doubled it for others.
The increases for maximum support are as follows:
Hackney cab support has risen from £5,000 to £6,000 to upgrade to compliant vehicles (Euro 6 diesel or Euro 4 petrol).
Private hire vehicles from £3,000 to £4,000 for upgrading to ultra low emission, and from £1,500 to £3,000 to be compliant.
Light goods vehicle support has risen from £1,000 to £4,000 for upgrading to compliant models and from £3,500 to £5,000 for replacing to ultra low emission vehicles.
The council expects these packages to be available from summer.