Leeds Council Reveals Clean Air Zone Plans
Leeds City Council has revealed plans that could see high emission taxis, private hire vehicles, lorries and buses charged up to £100 a day to drive within the city centre.
The news comes as a follow up to the government’s October 2016 plans for “clean air zones” in Leeds, Birmingham, Nottingham Derby and Southampton, five of the UK’s most polluted cities.
The proposals would see vehicles that fail engine standards receive charges when driving within Leeds’ Outer Ring Road. However, private vehicles are currently exempt from the plans, and the daily charge for taxis and private hire vehicles would be capped at £12.50.
If the government approves the plan, the charges could be rolled out from as early as October 2018.
Taxi drivers within the city have expressed concerns that the plans could see them short changed, with some stating that in order to be fair charges should be applied to all vehicles. One driver, Zaber Abbas, commented: “If we have to pay it, I think everybody should pay it. In terms of [the monetary] effect, I don't think I would be able to do this job anymore."
However, council figures have stressed that at this stage the plans are only prescriptive, and that a full consultation with drivers be carried out in the New Year.
In response to drivers’ concerns, Lucinda Yeadon of Leeds City Council said : “This is a public health issue, but we don't want to put any added pressure on to those small businesses or individuals. We want to work with them to recognise what the issues are and how we overcome them."
Around 400 taxis and 5000 private hire vehicles currently operate within the Leeds City Council region, with 92% of these running on petrol or diesel. The council hopes that the plans would encourage more drivers to consider adopting alternative fuel and electric vehicles.