Basildon council and Defra continue Clean Air Zone tussle

Basildon Council and Basildon Business Group have written a joint letter to Defra minister Theresa Villers, voicing their opposition to proposals for a charging clean air zone (CAZ) in Basildon.

The letter opposes the introduction of a CAZ on the A127, which could be forced upon them by Defra, and highlights the ‘passionate commitment’ of businesses to reduce nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels and improve air quality.

It states that a charging zone would have a detrimental effect on the local economy, which it claims is the biggest in the Thames Estuary outside of Canary Wharf.

Cllr Callaghan said: ‘The quality of air in our borough is of great concern to all of us. We believe a non-charging clean air zone, coupled with other mitigating measures like the reduction of the speed limit to 50mph, will enable continued substantial improvement in air quality in the borough.

‘However, the introduction of a charging clean air zone would serve only to damage our businesses and livelihoods and push the problem to other areas like the Basildon stretch of the A13.

‘Many of our local businesses are already demonstrating their commitment to improving air quality by altering deliveries to times outside of rush hour and replacing their fleets with hybrid and Euro 6 compliant vehicles.

‘We are standing together to urge the government to allow sensible non-charging clear air measures instead and we’ve offered to meet with the Secretary of State to discuss this in more detail.’

The local authority has been involved in a long-running battle with the department over the CAZ.

In July, an emergency council meeting had been called after then Environment Minister Therese Coffey ordered Basildon Council and Essex County Council to complete additional modelling on measures that will improve air quality on the A127 or face a CAZ being imposed on them.

At the meeting councillors voted to bring forward a speed reduction of 20mph on the Basildon stretch of the A127 which they believe will reduce air pollution to a level that would satisfy the governmment.