Air quality minister Therese Coffey has written to Derby city council to request further talks with the authority over its call for the introduction of a vehicle scrappage scheme to improve air quality in the city.
The minister outlined her concerns about the authorityâ€™s calls for support for a scrappage scheme, in a letter to the councilâ€™s leader Councillor Ranjit Banwait last week, following discussions between the minister, government officials and representatives of the city council last month (see airqualitynews.com story).
Derby was one of five city authorities mandated within the governmentâ€™s 2015 air quality plan as being required to establish a clean air zone by 2020 to help bring the UK into compliance with the Air Quality Directive target on nitrogen dioxide emissions.
The city council has yet to outline how it will seek to meet the requirements of the governments order, and had been due to publish plans early this year detailing its proposals.
However, the council has instead sought support for the introduction of a targeted scrappage scheme, which it says would help to remove some of the most polluting vehicles from the cityâ€™s streets.
The measure would be introduced instead of a charging clean air zone and would avoid all of the â€œnegative social and economic impacts on businesses and residents that are inherent in road charging schemesâ€.
Council modelling suggested that the introduction of a clean air zone would not be sufficient to meet air quality limits within the city.
In her letter, Dr Coffey outlined her disappointment in the councilâ€™s failure to meet deadlines for the publication of its proposals, which would have included a short list of options for the roll-out of the CAZ within the city.
She also claimed that details of the proposed scrappage scheme presented to Defra, differed from those outlined by in the media.
â€œI completely understand the concerns expressed about the impact on the economy of Derby of various options to improve air quality,â€ the minister wrote.
On recent discussions between the government and the council, she added: â€œWe discussed how you can accelerate work and I welcome your commitment to this. The most immediate next step would be to commence urgent and open discussions with JAQU [the governmentâ€™s Joint Air Quality Unit] to examine the evidence behind your proposed targeted scrappage scheme. I should underline that I cannot take a view on your proposal without the information outlined above, but I do want to encourage you to be realistic in your assessment of the options.â€
Other cities mandated to establish clean air zones included Brimingham, Leeds, Nottingham and Southampton. To date, Leeds city council has outlined its CAZ proposals, which include charging for some vehicles to drive within some polluted parts of the city (see airqualitynews.com story).