Sheffield Clean Air Zone: Hundreds of deaths from air pollution prompts inner ring road charge

Hundreds of people are dying prematurely each year in Sheffield from air pollution which is why the city needs a Clean Air Zone.

Friday, 5th November 2021, 1:17 pm

Air pollution is a major public health challenge that is damaging the life chances of people nationwide but air quality in Sheffield has exceeded legal levels since 2010.

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Tom Finnegan-Smith, head of strategic transport at Sheffield Council, said: “In Sheffield air pollution contributes to the early deaths of around 500 people every year and particularly affects the long-term health of young people and those with existing health conditions.

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Sheffield's Clean Air Zone will cover the inner ring road.

“The Sheffield Clean Air Strategy 2017 stated that addressing the effects of air pollution is a public health emergency.

“The World Health Organisation guidelines provide clear evidence of the damage air pollution inflicts on health, at even lower concentrations than previously understood.

“The guidelines recommend new air quality levels to protect the health of populations, by reducing levels of key air pollutants, some of which contribute to climate change.”

Why is Sheffield Clean Air Zone Class C?

This is the standard needed to achieve legal levels of air quality, along with wider traffic management measures.

The inner ring road is a key area given the volume of traffic but also the regeneration of the city centre will eventually see 21,000 new homes.

Mr Finnegan-Smith added: “Multiple places across our road network are in breach of legal limits for air quality with vehicles, particularly diesel vehicles, exposing communities to invisible but harmful concentrations of nitrogen dioxide.

“The primary goal is to encourage and support the removal of the most polluting vehicles from the city’s roads in order to make our air cleaner and safer to breathe.”

Buses, coaches and HGV drivers face a £50 daily charge for going through the zone. Vans, minibuses, private hire taxis and hackney carriages will pay £10.

Automatic number plate recognition cameras will catch vehicles, but private drivers are exempt.

Sheffield Council is offering a number of grants and loans, using Government funding, so drivers can upgrade their vehicles and avoid paying the penalty.

There will be a public consultation before the zone is introduced late in 2022.