Final proposals to tackle air quality set to be submitted

air quality

Three Tyneside councils are set to agree their final plan to improve air quality across the region in response to government's legal direction. 

Cabinet meetings to be held this month will seek the approval of councillors in Newcastle, North Tyneside and Gateshead to consult on proposals for a Clean Air Zone and a range of supporting measures to be implemented in 2021. 

Under the plans, private car drivers will not initially be subject to the charge - though once public transport and mitigation measures have been agreed the councils will consider introducing charges for polluting private vehicles at a future date. Such a charge for private vehicles would be subject to a separate consultation and is likely to depend on the level of resource committed from government to providing reliable alternatives. 

Newcastle, Gateshead and North Tyneside councils developed the revised proposals following consultation feedback, which highlighted concerns about the potential impact of charges in the first year on individuals, businesses and the local economy. 

Councillors will be asked to agree the final package of measures, which includes: 

  • A smaller charging Clean Air Zone covering only Newcastle City Centre affecting non-compliant buses, coaches, taxis (Hackney Carriages and private hire vehicles), heavy goods vehicles and vans from 2021. 
  • Changes to the road layout on the Central Motorway, that will prevent traffic from merging on and off the slip lane between the New Bridge Street and Swan House junctions. 
  • Lane restrictions on the Tyne Bridge and Central Motorway. These restrictions will be put in place to support air quality work but the councils are asking government for £40m funding to ensure essential maintenance works take place at the same time, minimising disruption by aligning these much needed roadworks to update the ageing bridge with the need to implement lane restrictions.
  •  Changes to the local road network in Newcastle and Gateshead to reflect the Tyne Bridge restrictions and ensure public transport can run reliably.
  • New delivery hubs for smaller goods vehicles outside of the charging zone, from where 'last-mile' deliveries can be made by electric vehicle or cargo bike. 
  • Supporting measures, including grants and other help for people to upgrade vehicles, grace periods where some drivers would not be charged when measures are first introduced and exemptions for certain vehicles that would not be charged at all. 

The legal order the councils have been given by government means they had to identify measures that will bring pollution to within legal limits as quickly as possible.  

They believe this package of measures would achieve this aim while also taking into account the feedback from the first stage of consultation, which attracted over 19,000 responses, earlier this year. 

Councillor Arlene Ainsley, Cabinet Member for Transport and Air Quality, said: "Simply charging everyone for driving into Newcastle city centre or over our bridges isn't going to clean up air quality on its own. That's why we've developed a package of measures to address many of the issues the public and businesses raised with us during our first consultation. 

"It's a very uncertain time for the country's economy for a lot of reasons and we're trying to avoid adding disruption to our local economy just to satisfy a narrow focus from government that we've consistently argued isn't comprehensive in what it's trying to achieve. 

"Our proposals include targeting the heaviest single vehicle polluters first, such as old buses and large HGVs. Our proposals to government include mitigation and grant provision to upgrade or replace old dirty vehicles to more compliant models as well as ways of making bus services more affordable and practical for everyone. 

"At the same time, we want to improve our key roads and reduce congestion to keep traffic moving and prioritise public transport. We're trying to take the opportunity to do essential works to the Tyne Bridge, subject to government funding. This will play a key role in not only addressing air quality but ensuring the public recognise we are joined up in our approach." 

Councillor Martin Gannon, Leader of Gateshead Council, said: "Working across local authorities we have developed a Clean Air Zone in Newcastle's city centre that will initially focus on non-compliant buses, coaches, HGVs, vans and taxis. We believe this will improve our air quality as quickly as other options but will be less damaging for our region's economy.  

"At this stage, we will not be looking to charge private vehicles as we firmly believe that there have to be credible alternatives in place for people to get out of their cars, such as better walking and cycling infrastructure and cheaper and more reliable forms of public transport which will be our primary focus. 

"We may need to look again at private cars in the future which will require further consultation, but we believe our proposals should - if the supporting measures are funded adequately by government - bring our air quality to legal levels and protect the health of our population." 

Councillor Carl Johnson, Cabinet Member for Transport and Environment at North Tyneside Council, said: "We are committed to working together to tackle air quality in our region and have developed a package of measures to help us do this. However, as local authorities we can't do this on our own and need a firm support from government on mitigation funding to make this happen. 

"We need to support businesses and public transport operators in making the shift to cleaner, greener vehicles as well as looking at the affordability of public transport as this will be key to cleaning up our air."  

The charges that are proposed for vehicles that do not meet emissions standards are as follows: 

  •  HGVs - £50 per day 
  • Buses - £50 per day 
  • Coaches - £50 per day 
  • Taxis (Hackney Carriages and private hire vehicles) - £12.50 per day 
  • Vans - £12.50 per day 
  • Cars - £0 per day. Any future charges after 2021 would be determined after further consultation once the other measures had been agreed and implemented. 

 

Frequently asked questions

 

What is a charging Clear Air Zone C?  

Within a charging Clear Air Zone (CAZ) drivers of certain vehicles are charged if their vehicle doesn't meet the minimum standard emissions standards.   

There are no charges for newer vehicles or those with zero emissions.  

When will measures be in place?  

Measures will be introduced in 2021.  

Which vehicles will be charged in a Clear Air Zone C?  

Only buses, coaches, taxis (hackney carriages and private hire vehicles), HGVs and vans that do not meet  emissions standards would be charged from 2021 (Euro 6 diesel vehicles would not be charged, nor would Euro 5 / Euro 6 petrol vehicles).  

What about private cars?  

At this stage we do not intend to charge cars, motorcycles and mopeds. Charges may be applied to private vehicles at a later stage after we have assessed the impact of this approach on air quality levels and the wider environmental impact of emissions on climate change. This would be subject to further consultation.  

Why are private vehicles exempt?  

Our modelling shows that we can meet air quality targets by having a Clean Air Zone C, which exempts private vehicles but only if we also put in place other measures such as reducing the number of lanes on the Tyne Bridge for two years. This approach has far less re-routing into residential streets and the A1, which is due to have roadworks on it in 2021  

Could private vehicles be charged in the future?  

It is clear that we need to change the way we travel to address environmental concerns. We will be bidding for funding to government for significant enhancements to our public transport, walking and cycling network and once these measures have been agreed, the councils will consider introducing charges for polluting private vehicles at a future date. We would do a further consultation on that at that time. 

What other steps are being taken to improve air quality?  

A Clean Air Zone C is part of a package of measures. Other steps include: 

  • Changes to the road layout on the Central Motorway, that will prevent traffic from merging on and off the slip lane between the New Bridge Street and Swan House junctions.  
  • Lane restrictions on the Tyne Bridge and Central Motorway. These restrictions will be put in place to support air quality work but the councils are asking government for £40m funding to ensure essential maintenance works take place at the same time, minimising disruption by aligning these much needed roadworks to update the ageing bridge with the need to implement lane restrictions.
  • Changes to the local road network in Newcastle and Gateshead to reflect the Tyne Bridge restrictions and ensure public transport can run reliably.
  • New delivery hubs for smaller goods vehicles outside of the charging zone, from where 'last-mile' deliveries can be made by electric vehicle or cargo bike.
  • Supporting measures, including grants and other help for people to upgrade vehicles, grace periods where some drivers would not be charged when measures are first introduced and exemptions for certain vehicles that would not be charged at all.  

Do the measures go far enough to improve air quality?  

Under the terms of the legal order we have been given, we are required to implement measures in 2021 in order to achieve legal compliance in the shortest possible time.   

However, we know that we need to transition to a cleaner and greener transport system which also protects the most vulnerable, including low income households, and we will continue to review the most appropriate way of achieving this.

We also know that we need to have financial measures in place, such as grants to help support businesses to make the switch to cleaner vehicles and that people need good quality and affordable public transport to reduce car-use, and it is these mitigation measures that we need government funding to help us achieve this.  

What harm does air pollution cause?

Poor air quality is a national public health crisis, linked to around 40,000 early deaths every year in the UK, including an estimated 360 in Newcastle, Gateshead and North Tyneside.

There are many different causes of pollution but traffic is one of the main contributing factors.

Nitrogen dioxide and tiny invisible particles from exhaust fumes, tyres and brakes are present in the air we breathe.

This has been linked to serious health conditions, like cancer, heart disease and breathing problems, with those who are older, young children and people already living with long-term health issues more likely to be affected.

What are the next steps?

A six-week consultation will take place to allow people to have their say on these proposals. We will then submit our final proposals to government towards the end of the year.  

air quality
09 September 2019

Three Tyneside councils are set to agree their final plan to improve air quality across the region in response to government's legal direction. 

Cabinet meetings to be held this month will seek the approval of councillors in Newcastle, North Tyneside and Gateshead to consult on proposals for a Clean Air Zone and a range of supporting measures to be implemented in 2021. 

Under the plans, private car drivers will not initially be subject to the charge - though once public transport and mitigation measures have been agreed the councils will consider introducing charges for polluting private vehicles at a future date. Such a charge for private vehicles would be subject to a separate consultation and is likely to depend on the level of resource committed from government to providing reliable alternatives. 

Newcastle, Gateshead and North Tyneside councils developed the revised proposals following consultation feedback, which highlighted concerns about the potential impact of charges in the first year on individuals, businesses and the local economy. 

Councillors will be asked to agree the final package of measures, which includes: 

  • A smaller charging Clean Air Zone covering only Newcastle City Centre affecting non-compliant buses, coaches, taxis (Hackney Carriages and private hire vehicles), heavy goods vehicles and vans from 2021. 
  • Changes to the road layout on the Central Motorway, that will prevent traffic from merging on and off the slip lane between the New Bridge Street and Swan House junctions. 
  • Lane restrictions on the Tyne Bridge and Central Motorway. These restrictions will be put in place to support air quality work but the councils are asking government for £40m funding to ensure essential maintenance works take place at the same time, minimising disruption by aligning these much needed roadworks to update the ageing bridge with the need to implement lane restrictions.
  •  Changes to the local road network in Newcastle and Gateshead to reflect the Tyne Bridge restrictions and ensure public transport can run reliably.
  • New delivery hubs for smaller goods vehicles outside of the charging zone, from where 'last-mile' deliveries can be made by electric vehicle or cargo bike. 
  • Supporting measures, including grants and other help for people to upgrade vehicles, grace periods where some drivers would not be charged when measures are first introduced and exemptions for certain vehicles that would not be charged at all. 

The legal order the councils have been given by government means they had to identify measures that will bring pollution to within legal limits as quickly as possible.  

They believe this package of measures would achieve this aim while also taking into account the feedback from the first stage of consultation, which attracted over 19,000 responses, earlier this year. 

Councillor Arlene Ainsley, Cabinet Member for Transport and Air Quality, said: "Simply charging everyone for driving into Newcastle city centre or over our bridges isn't going to clean up air quality on its own. That's why we've developed a package of measures to address many of the issues the public and businesses raised with us during our first consultation. 

"It's a very uncertain time for the country's economy for a lot of reasons and we're trying to avoid adding disruption to our local economy just to satisfy a narrow focus from government that we've consistently argued isn't comprehensive in what it's trying to achieve. 

"Our proposals include targeting the heaviest single vehicle polluters first, such as old buses and large HGVs. Our proposals to government include mitigation and grant provision to upgrade or replace old dirty vehicles to more compliant models as well as ways of making bus services more affordable and practical for everyone. 

"At the same time, we want to improve our key roads and reduce congestion to keep traffic moving and prioritise public transport. We're trying to take the opportunity to do essential works to the Tyne Bridge, subject to government funding. This will play a key role in not only addressing air quality but ensuring the public recognise we are joined up in our approach." 

Councillor Martin Gannon, Leader of Gateshead Council, said: "Working across local authorities we have developed a Clean Air Zone in Newcastle's city centre that will initially focus on non-compliant buses, coaches, HGVs, vans and taxis. We believe this will improve our air quality as quickly as other options but will be less damaging for our region's economy.  

"At this stage, we will not be looking to charge private vehicles as we firmly believe that there have to be credible alternatives in place for people to get out of their cars, such as better walking and cycling infrastructure and cheaper and more reliable forms of public transport which will be our primary focus. 

"We may need to look again at private cars in the future which will require further consultation, but we believe our proposals should - if the supporting measures are funded adequately by government - bring our air quality to legal levels and protect the health of our population." 

Councillor Carl Johnson, Cabinet Member for Transport and Environment at North Tyneside Council, said: "We are committed to working together to tackle air quality in our region and have developed a package of measures to help us do this. However, as local authorities we can't do this on our own and need a firm support from government on mitigation funding to make this happen. 

"We need to support businesses and public transport operators in making the shift to cleaner, greener vehicles as well as looking at the affordability of public transport as this will be key to cleaning up our air."  

The charges that are proposed for vehicles that do not meet emissions standards are as follows: 

  •  HGVs - £50 per day 
  • Buses - £50 per day 
  • Coaches - £50 per day 
  • Taxis (Hackney Carriages and private hire vehicles) - £12.50 per day 
  • Vans - £12.50 per day 
  • Cars - £0 per day. Any future charges after 2021 would be determined after further consultation once the other measures had been agreed and implemented. 

 

Frequently asked questions

 

What is a charging Clear Air Zone C?  

Within a charging Clear Air Zone (CAZ) drivers of certain vehicles are charged if their vehicle doesn't meet the minimum standard emissions standards.   

There are no charges for newer vehicles or those with zero emissions.  

When will measures be in place?  

Measures will be introduced in 2021.  

Which vehicles will be charged in a Clear Air Zone C?  

Only buses, coaches, taxis (hackney carriages and private hire vehicles), HGVs and vans that do not meet  emissions standards would be charged from 2021 (Euro 6 diesel vehicles would not be charged, nor would Euro 5 / Euro 6 petrol vehicles).  

What about private cars?  

At this stage we do not intend to charge cars, motorcycles and mopeds. Charges may be applied to private vehicles at a later stage after we have assessed the impact of this approach on air quality levels and the wider environmental impact of emissions on climate change. This would be subject to further consultation.  

Why are private vehicles exempt?  

Our modelling shows that we can meet air quality targets by having a Clean Air Zone C, which exempts private vehicles but only if we also put in place other measures such as reducing the number of lanes on the Tyne Bridge for two years. This approach has far less re-routing into residential streets and the A1, which is due to have roadworks on it in 2021  

Could private vehicles be charged in the future?  

It is clear that we need to change the way we travel to address environmental concerns. We will be bidding for funding to government for significant enhancements to our public transport, walking and cycling network and once these measures have been agreed, the councils will consider introducing charges for polluting private vehicles at a future date. We would do a further consultation on that at that time. 

What other steps are being taken to improve air quality?  

A Clean Air Zone C is part of a package of measures. Other steps include: 

  • Changes to the road layout on the Central Motorway, that will prevent traffic from merging on and off the slip lane between the New Bridge Street and Swan House junctions.  
  • Lane restrictions on the Tyne Bridge and Central Motorway. These restrictions will be put in place to support air quality work but the councils are asking government for £40m funding to ensure essential maintenance works take place at the same time, minimising disruption by aligning these much needed roadworks to update the ageing bridge with the need to implement lane restrictions.
  • Changes to the local road network in Newcastle and Gateshead to reflect the Tyne Bridge restrictions and ensure public transport can run reliably.
  • New delivery hubs for smaller goods vehicles outside of the charging zone, from where 'last-mile' deliveries can be made by electric vehicle or cargo bike.
  • Supporting measures, including grants and other help for people to upgrade vehicles, grace periods where some drivers would not be charged when measures are first introduced and exemptions for certain vehicles that would not be charged at all.  

Do the measures go far enough to improve air quality?  

Under the terms of the legal order we have been given, we are required to implement measures in 2021 in order to achieve legal compliance in the shortest possible time.   

However, we know that we need to transition to a cleaner and greener transport system which also protects the most vulnerable, including low income households, and we will continue to review the most appropriate way of achieving this.

We also know that we need to have financial measures in place, such as grants to help support businesses to make the switch to cleaner vehicles and that people need good quality and affordable public transport to reduce car-use, and it is these mitigation measures that we need government funding to help us achieve this.  

What harm does air pollution cause?

Poor air quality is a national public health crisis, linked to around 40,000 early deaths every year in the UK, including an estimated 360 in Newcastle, Gateshead and North Tyneside.

There are many different causes of pollution but traffic is one of the main contributing factors.

Nitrogen dioxide and tiny invisible particles from exhaust fumes, tyres and brakes are present in the air we breathe.

This has been linked to serious health conditions, like cancer, heart disease and breathing problems, with those who are older, young children and people already living with long-term health issues more likely to be affected.

What are the next steps?

A six-week consultation will take place to allow people to have their say on these proposals. We will then submit our final proposals to government towards the end of the year.  

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