Sheffield's Clean Air Zone under review because of coronavirus

Sheffield's Clean Air Zone is being reconsidered because of the impact of coronavirus.

Friday, 11th September 2020, 9:00 am
Coun Bob Johnson

Council chiefs say the situation has changed "significantly and unexpectedly" due to the global pandemic.

The city has seen a drop in air pollution of up to 33 per cent from January to August of this year compared to the same period in 2019.

Many businesses are struggling to keep afloat and protect jobs and the council says if it can "hold on" to clean air through other measures without resorting to charging people, it will.

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Sheffield

The zone around the ring road and inner ring road would have seen a charge of £50 a day for buses and £10 a day for taxis, lorries, vans and coaches. It was an attempt to slash the levels of nitrogen dioxide amid pressure from the Government.

Coun Bob Johson, Cabinet member for transport, said: "We recognise that many businesses and jobs are under unprecedented stress arising from the economic impacts of the pandemic.

"At the same time, following on from lockdown, there have been a number of changes to travel behaviour which has led to improvements in air quality.

"The current situation is dramatically different to the one in which our proposals were originally developed.

"In finalising our clean air plans we will review the possible impacts of Covid-19 on businesses, transport, and air quality.

"This will help us decide if the same action is needed, or if changes can be made to be successful in reducing air pollution for the long term.

"We will only make a decision when we have a better understanding of the impact of Covid-19."

The council is considering alternative approaches to charging non-compliant vehicles within the city centre.

Coun Johnson added: "If we can hold onto clean air by introducing other measures without resorting to charging people, we believe this is the best way forward.

"Alternative measures include incentives for upgrading vehicles, better provision for walking and cycling, and cleaner public transport.

“Many of the businesses who will need to upgrade their vehicles in order to be compliant with the zone are focusing quite rightly on controlling the spread of the virus, and working to keep people safe, local people in jobs and businesses afloat.

"If they cannot afford to upgrade to cleaner vehicles, they may end up paying to pollute and we will all still breathe dirty air.

“With the right clean air plan and crucially, with the right funding from the Government, we can reduce pollution in a fair way, and in a way that is aligned with our zero-carbon goals."