A consultation on a potential Clean Air Zone (CAZ) for Newcastle, Gateshead and North Tyneside begins today (March 4).
The government ordered that a CAZ must be part of the consultation, which also invites residents and businesses to comment on potential tolls on the three main road bridges over the River Tyne – the Tyne, Swing and Redheugh bridges.
A charging CAZ would affect all vehicles that don’t meet the government’s minimum emissions standards and charges could be around £50 per day for lorries, buses and coaches and £12.50 per day for vans, taxis and cars.
Under a system of tolls, charges would apply to all lorries, vans and cars regardless of their emissions. Buses and taxis would not be required to pay. Tolls could be charged at around £3.40 per journey for lorries and £1.70 per journey for vans and cars.
However, the level of any charges and the area that could be covered by a charging CAZ have not yet been determined and people will be asked to comment on these as part of the consultation.
Other potential measures that people will be invited to comment on include a Low Emission Zone, where lorries, buses and taxis that don’t meet minimum emissions requirements could be banned from entering Newcastle city centre at certain times.
Air pollution is linked to hundreds of deaths a year in Newcastle, Gateshead and North Tyneside.
Cllr John McElroy, cabinet member for environment and transport at Gateshead Council, said: ‘This is a hugely important issue which could have significant implications for individuals, businesses and organisations across our communities.
‘It’s important that we understand people’s opinions on the potential measures we’re considering to help us develop the final proposals that we must submit to government later this year.
‘This consultation is an opportunity for people to tell us their views and I would urge everyone to get involved and have their say.’
The consultation will run from Wednesday 6 March until Friday 17 May and all residents, workers, students and businesses in and around the area are encouraged to take part.