Coventry city council has ruled out the introduction of an emissions-based charging scheme for vehicles to access parts of the city as part of its efforts to tackle air pollution.
A number of councils are considering the introduction of charges, in particular in city centre and busy town-centre locations, in a bid to restrict the access of more polluting diesel and some petrol vehicles, under measures to improve air quality.
Charging ‘clean air zones’ have been identified as among the most effective measures that local authorities can employ to limit air pollutant emissions in a short timeframe. Clean air campaigners including the environmental law charity ClientEarth have called for a network of charging zones to be set up across the country.
As part of its plan to tackle nitrogen dioxide emissions published in 2015 – the government ordered five local authorities – including Coventry’s neighbouring West Midlands authority Birmingham to establish clean air zones in areas where pollution exceeded EU limit values.
A further plan, published in 2017 ordered a further 23 authorities to explore measures to reduce NO2 emissions – including the potential for charging clean air zones where other initiatives may not be effective.
Leeds is among the first local authorities to come forward with firm proposals for the implementation of a Clean Air Zone – with proposals for the introduction of a charge for diesel HGVs, buses and coaches which do not meet the Euro VI emissions standards to be required to pay a charge (see airqualitynews.com story).
Birmingham city council is also finalising proposals for the implementation of a clean air zone in order to comply with the government’s 2015 instruction, with a consultation on proposals expected in 2018.
According to the council, the types of vehicle which could be charged to enter have not yet been decided, but comments from West Midlands Mayor, Andy Street, in recent months indicate he is in favour of implementing a charge in the region.
This has prompted a strong response from nearby Coventry city council, which has sought to reassure its residents that any such measure would not extend into the area.
In a statement this week, Councillor Jim O’Boyle, Coventry’s cabinet member for jobs and regeneration, said: “The first thing to make clear is that the West Midlands Combined Authority does not have the power to impose a pollution charge on this city.
“The issue in Birmingham is different as the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has identified that traffic pollution is a concern in their city centre but that is not the case here.
“Yes, there are a small number of roads in the city where levels are higher than we would want at certain times of the day but they are not in the city centre.
“They are roads leading in and out of the city and we are closely monitoring the issue and working with Defra to identify ways of improving our city’s air quality and avoiding a need for a pollution charge.â€?
Coventry city council