Proposals to introduce a â€˜Class Câ€™ charging Clean Air Zone in Sheffield city centre have received a mixed reaction from businesses in the logistics and public transport sectors.
Plans were outlined by the city council last week for the proposal that would see a single daily charge introduced for â€˜heavily pollutingâ€™ buses, coaches, taxis, HGVs and light goods vehicles (LGVs) to address exceedances of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) limits within the city (see airqualitynews.com story).
Potential charges â€“ which would be set at around Â£50 a day for buses, coaches and HGVs, Â£10 a day for taxis and private hire vehicles and Â£10 a day for vans and LGVs, are likely to apply to vehicles that are older than Euro 6 for diesel (2016) or Euro 4 for petrol (2006). The charge would apply to non-compliant vehicles travelling on and within the cityâ€™s inner ring road.
The proposals have been welcomed by one of the cityâ€™s major bus operators, First South Yorkshire, which is seeking further investment in cleaner vehicle technology for the city.
However, logistics firms, represented by the Road Haulage Association (RHA), have expressed concern at the proposals, describing Sheffieldâ€™s plan as â€˜unfairâ€™ for failing to include charges for private car drivers.
Commenting on the proposals via the Sheffield council website, Kevin Belfield, managing director of First South Yorkshire said that bus operators â€˜play a vital role in helping to find solutions to reduce air pollutionâ€™.
He added: â€œBuses also help to reduce emissions made by cars, as one double decker can take 75 cars off the road.
â€œWe are working closely with Sheffield city council on this issue, and weâ€™re awaiting further details on the formal consultation for this new proposal.
â€œFigures show that buses contribute to 10% of emissions. Over the last few years, the council, First Bus and Stagecoach have invested millions in new ultra-low emission vehicles, including Â£9m this year.â€
The company has, he added, recently begun an â€˜extended programmeâ€™ of upgrading older vehicles to help reduce emissions in the city to bring them up to the â€˜cleanest standardsâ€™.
â€œWe are pleased that the council will be seeking extra investment in the cityâ€™s bus fleet from the government,â€ he said. â€œOur ambition is to have really clean and compliant buses in Sheffield, which would mean that buses donâ€™t end up paying any proposed charge.â€
RHA has called for the city council to go further in its proposal and to consider including private car users in the scope of the CAZ charge.
Commenting on the councilâ€™s announcement last week, RHA chief executive Richard Burnett said: â€œOperators of Euro VI rated HGV are running the cleanest trucks currently available. However, the councilâ€™s proposal not to include private cars in the plan is badly considered â€“ bearing in mind that the NOx emissions of some cars is equal to those produced by HGVs. By all means introduce a clean air zone that is in the interests of the environment but make sure that it is a scheme that treats all road users fairly.
â€œWe suggest that Sheffield city council consults with motoring industry experts before introducing what can only be described as an unfair charging system.â€
Proposals for a charging Clean Air Zone are expected to be consulted on by the city council in early 2019.