Leeds city council is introducing 51 fully electric vans to its fleet – ahead of the introduction of a Clean Air Zone in the city from January 2020.
The roll-out of 51 new zero-emission Nissan vans mean that the council will have 95 electric vehicles (EVs) in total.
Introduction of the new vehicles comes after the council offered further detail on its proposals for the introduction of a charging Clean Air Zone – which are due to be submitted to government for approval.
Under the proposals, charges of up to £50 would be levied on heavy goods vehicles (HGVs), buses, coaches, taxis and private hire vehicles entering the ‘Class B’ Clean Air Zone covering more than half of the city.
The city council is requesting £27 million in funding from the government’s £220 million Clean Air Fund to support local businesses to upgrade or retrofit affected vehicles through grants and interest-free loans. This is in addition to £13 million from the government’s £255 million Implementation Fund to cover costs associated with the infrastructure and operation of the zone.
Cllr James Lewis, Leeds’ executive member with responsibility for sustainability and the environment said:“The plans we’re putting forward have been carefully developed following months of consultation with thousands of residents and local businesses to ensure they are the best plans for Leeds. They will improve air quality within the shortest possible time, tackling air pollution and protecting the health of everyone in the city.
“A key element of these proposals is the support we’re proposing to help affected local businesses transition to cleaner vehicles which avoid charges. We believe that it is important to help local businesses in order for the zone to most successfully reduce pollution.
Alongside the introduction of the CAZ, Leeds has said it will seek to ‘lead the way’ in reducing its own air pollution emissions through its investment in low emission vehicles.
The council has set an ambition to move towards 100% zero or ultra-low emission vehicles by 2025.
Commenting on the latest roll-out of vehicles, Cllr Lewis added: “All of us that live and work in Leeds share a responsibility for improving the quality of the air we breathe.
“That’s why last month, Leeds city council became one of 16 organisations to sign up to the national ‘Clean Van Commitment’—a commitment to collectively invest £40 million in electric vans over the next two years for a more sustainable future.
“These new vehicles demonstrate that we are honouring that commitment and, more importantly, that we are doing our bit to reduce our own contribution to air pollution and protect the health of everyone in Leeds.â€?