Cities postpone clean air zones after government delays online tool

Birmingham and Leeds blame late delivery of vehicle checker system for delay to environmental restrictions

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The introduction of clean air zones in Birmingham and Leeds have been postponed, with the two city councils blaming delays to the delivery of an online vehicle checker by central government.

The government’s Joint Air Quality Unit, run by the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs and the Department for Transport, was due to provide the online tool in October. But in a joint statement, Birmingham and Leeds city councils said the unit recently pushed delivery back until December, just before the zones were due to open in January 2020. As a result, they will significantly postpone their introduction.

“The council has been fully on track to implement the clean air zone from January 2020 on the basis of assurances from the government that the vehicle checker would be in place by October this year,” said Cllr Waseem Zaffar, Birmingham’s cabinet member for transport and environment.

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He added that the government delay “means we are unable to go ahead with our clean air zone in January as planned, as this would be completely unfair on residents, businesses and visitors to the city who would only have a matter of weeks, if not days, to make key choices about their travel behaviour or upgrade their vehicles. This is simply unacceptable.”

“The government now needs to outline new timescales that they are confident can be delivered in order to give residents and businesses across the country clarity and certainty about the future of these schemes,” added Cllr James Lewis, deputy leader of Leeds City Council.

The two cities added that the government has told them they will be responsible for collecting payments from non-compliant vehicles, having previously said this would be handled centrally.

“We are aware of concerns over delays and are carrying out work to develop key components of the system to support the charging clean air zones for January 2020,” said a government spokesperson in response.

PublicTechnology staff

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