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Businesses to be given longer to get CAZ ready

Aerial of river

Plans to introduce a Clean Air Zone (CAZ) in Newcastle and Gateshead are to be postponed to allow more time for people and businesses to get ready.

Local business leaders have welcomed the decision, which the councils have confirmed is in response to concerns over drivers and firms needing more time to access financial support.
The CAZ is being introduced to reduce levels of harmful pollution from vehicles in response to a government legal order.

The zone covers most of Newcastle city centre along with routes over the Tyne, Swing, High Level and Redheugh bridges and will affect taxis, vans, buses, coaches and HGVs that don't meet national emissions standards.

Charges for non-compliant vehicles to enter the zone were due to be introduced from July this year but, given the proposals Newcastle and Gateshead councils submitted in October 2021 weren't approved until April 2022, it has been agreed to put back this date to give those affected more time to prepare.

The two councils have initiated discussions with government officials to agree a revised timeline for the launch of the CAZ.

Cllr Martin Gannon, Leader of Gateshead Council, said: "It took significantly longer than we expected to receive final government approval for our plans, along with confirmation of how much funding they would provide for vehicle upgrade grants.

"This has had an inevitable impact on the time available for us to promote the grants scheme, and for businesses and drivers to access funding and get compliant.

"As we have previously said, our main concern is to improve air quality and a huge amount of work on behalf of councils and government has been focused on transport changes that promote more active and sustainable ways of getting around.

"It's also important that we ensure that affected drivers and businesses are given a fair opportunity to prepare and, where possible, take steps that will avoid them having to pay CAZ charges.

"We're therefore discussing a revised timetable with government to ensure that businesses can access the grant funding government has made available."

Confirmation that the introduction of the Clean Air Zone will be postponed has been welcomed by business leaders, who said this would come as a relief to sole traders and companies already facing increasing costs.

John McCabe, Chair of the North East Chamber of Commerce, said: "Good businesses in the region will support the need for clean air improvements but the process needs to be fair. Our members need time to prepare for any changes, especially with increasing business costs."

Reshma Begum, Development Manager - North East England, Federation of Small Businesses, said that small businesses recognise the importance of improving air quality but that the decision to postpone the CAZ launch would be "a huge relief to sole traders and small businesses across Newcastle, Gateshead and the wider region".

And Stephen Patterson, Chief Executive of NE1, also welcomed the decision to give businesses more time to prepare, saying it was the right thing to do, particularly given the "significant impact" of the pandemic.

All preparations for the Clean Air Zone remain ongoing, including work on the installation of technology and signage and systems testing. All will progress significantly over the summer.

Final arrangements for the application process and distribution of vehicle upgrade grants are being completed and, despite councils having requested more funding for different groups, government has confirmed that the amount of funding available will be:

  • up to £3,700 for Hackney Carriage and private hire vehicles
  • up to £4,000 for wheelchair accessible taxi and private hire vehicles
  • up to £4,500 for vans and light goods vehicles
  • up to £16,000 for buses and coaches
  • up to £20,000 for heavy goods vehicles

Businesses and individuals who feel they may be affected by the Clean Air Zone are encouraged to register for more information, including details of how to apply for financial support, at www.breathe-cleanair.com.

Aerial of river
12 May 2022

Plans to introduce a Clean Air Zone (CAZ) in Newcastle and Gateshead are to be postponed to allow more time for people and businesses to get ready.

Local business leaders have welcomed the decision, which the councils have confirmed is in response to concerns over drivers and firms needing more time to access financial support.
The CAZ is being introduced to reduce levels of harmful pollution from vehicles in response to a government legal order.

The zone covers most of Newcastle city centre along with routes over the Tyne, Swing, High Level and Redheugh bridges and will affect taxis, vans, buses, coaches and HGVs that don't meet national emissions standards.

Charges for non-compliant vehicles to enter the zone were due to be introduced from July this year but, given the proposals Newcastle and Gateshead councils submitted in October 2021 weren't approved until April 2022, it has been agreed to put back this date to give those affected more time to prepare.

The two councils have initiated discussions with government officials to agree a revised timeline for the launch of the CAZ.

Cllr Martin Gannon, Leader of Gateshead Council, said: "It took significantly longer than we expected to receive final government approval for our plans, along with confirmation of how much funding they would provide for vehicle upgrade grants.

"This has had an inevitable impact on the time available for us to promote the grants scheme, and for businesses and drivers to access funding and get compliant.

"As we have previously said, our main concern is to improve air quality and a huge amount of work on behalf of councils and government has been focused on transport changes that promote more active and sustainable ways of getting around.

"It's also important that we ensure that affected drivers and businesses are given a fair opportunity to prepare and, where possible, take steps that will avoid them having to pay CAZ charges.

"We're therefore discussing a revised timetable with government to ensure that businesses can access the grant funding government has made available."

Confirmation that the introduction of the Clean Air Zone will be postponed has been welcomed by business leaders, who said this would come as a relief to sole traders and companies already facing increasing costs.

John McCabe, Chair of the North East Chamber of Commerce, said: "Good businesses in the region will support the need for clean air improvements but the process needs to be fair. Our members need time to prepare for any changes, especially with increasing business costs."

Reshma Begum, Development Manager - North East England, Federation of Small Businesses, said that small businesses recognise the importance of improving air quality but that the decision to postpone the CAZ launch would be "a huge relief to sole traders and small businesses across Newcastle, Gateshead and the wider region".

And Stephen Patterson, Chief Executive of NE1, also welcomed the decision to give businesses more time to prepare, saying it was the right thing to do, particularly given the "significant impact" of the pandemic.

All preparations for the Clean Air Zone remain ongoing, including work on the installation of technology and signage and systems testing. All will progress significantly over the summer.

Final arrangements for the application process and distribution of vehicle upgrade grants are being completed and, despite councils having requested more funding for different groups, government has confirmed that the amount of funding available will be:

  • up to £3,700 for Hackney Carriage and private hire vehicles
  • up to £4,000 for wheelchair accessible taxi and private hire vehicles
  • up to £4,500 for vans and light goods vehicles
  • up to £16,000 for buses and coaches
  • up to £20,000 for heavy goods vehicles

Businesses and individuals who feel they may be affected by the Clean Air Zone are encouraged to register for more information, including details of how to apply for financial support, at www.breathe-cleanair.com.

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