Northern cities are set to lose millions of pounds due to scrapped or delayed clean air plans, warns a new report published by think tank Green Alliance.
The report highlights that while clean air zones (CAZs) are going ahead this year in Bristol, Birmingham and London, as well as the newly established zone in Bath, many northern cities are lagging behind.
Leeds cancelled its planned zone during the pandemic, and Sheffield, Manchester, Liverpool, Tyneside and many others are yet to finalise their plans, which have all been delayed until at least 2022.
According to the report, these delays will continue to harm local people’s health and will lose the cities tens of millions of pounds. Greater Manchester would have seen annual health and environmental benefits amounting to £25m this year if it had committed to its initial timeframe.
The report also highlights that none of the proposals in northern cities include private vehicles, unlike the schemes for London, Bristol and Birmingham.
With 60% of roadside nitrogen oxide (NO2) emissions coming from local road traffic, the authors have highlighted that this is a missed opportunity.
Modelling shows that Bristol’s clean air zone is expected to result in £150m worth of benefits, compared to just £30m for plans that exclude cars.
Philippa Borrowman, policy adviser at Green Alliance said: ‘There’s a strong economic case for clean air zones and the north is once again set to lose out. Over the next couple of years, as the UK economy recovers from the pandemic, clean air could become yet another factor that divides the country and leads to different life chances.
‘Local authorities must now take action to reduce dangerous air pollution, by consulting with communities and businesses to ensure policies are implemented fairly and effectively. The UK government must also take the lead in making sure every area of the country is addressing this challenge so that the benefits of cleaner air are accessible to everyone, wherever they live.’
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