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The statutory consultation on the proposed clean air charging zone in Leeds will launch later this month.

The statutory consultation on the proposed clean air charging zone in Leeds will launch later this month.

The council has been directed by the government to provide a full business case by 15 September 2018 which addresses the city’s proposals to ensure it becomes compliant with air quality standards in the shortest possible time.

At a meeting of Leeds City Council’s executive board next week (Wednesday 27 June), members will be asked to approve entering into a period of statutory public consultation on both the clean air charging zone, the enforcement of anti-idling, the citywide clean air strategy and proposed changes to licensing conditions for taxis and private hire vehicles.

After receiving almost 9,000 responses to the first phase of consultation around draft plans for the city, the council has now revised plans after listening to the trades affected and the public, to include the following main areas;

- A new, smaller boundary area – having listened to feedback from businesses across the city we have revised the charging zone area so as to lessen the economic impact on businesses but at the same time ensuring we retain the benefits of improved air quality areas across the city.

- Changes to daily charges - a revised tariff for buses has been included in the latest proposals, after feedback from the initial consultation suggested a charge of £100 was too high. At this time the council is proposing a charge for buses, coaches and HGVS of £50 a day and a charge of £12.50 a day for taxi and private hire vehicles, with a reduced weekly rate available for Leeds licensed drivers who choose to purchase this in advance.

- A review of licensing conditions for the taxi and private hire trade in Leeds – a number of proposals and changes will be looked at including some ‘sunset periods’ for drivers that have recently bought new Euro 6 Vehicles and support and finance packages available to help assist the trade in the move to petrol hybrid and electric vehicles.

- The ambitions for the city after 2020 – the public and businesses will be asked about what they believe the council should be doing post 2020 to address air pollution in the city. Whether this means car free days in the city, a low emission zone in the city centre or other innovative ideas.

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The council also has a number of big asks for the government which form a vital part of delivery of the preferred scheme. Providing the right support packages for the trades affected is a high priority, and will help ensure the success of the scheme without adversely affecting local businesses in the city. Therefore the council are asking for support to accredit HGV retrofits and help smaller companies finance the change, along with a national register of private hire and taxis to ensure all relevant vehicles entering the zone are charged proportionately, as well as support for Leeds taxi and private hire driver to upgrade to hybrid and electric vehicles. On a national level, the council are pushing for a nationwide policy on intercity charging that would see vehicles only charged once per day regardless of the number of Clean Air Zones that were entered.

Those wanting to have their say on revised proposals will be able to view the documents and consultation questionnaire at www.leeds.gov.uk/airqualitycon... from 28 June 2018. The consultation will run for six weeks and close on 12 August 2018. The latest proposals comply with specific criteria from the government which states the city needs to achieve statutory compliance with air quality legislation and the scheme is delivered in the shortest possible time.

A number of measures to address public transport and connectivity in the city have already been announced as part of Connecting Leeds, the ambition to transform transport and travel in Leeds. Recently £4.1 million from the government’s Clean Bus Technology Fund (CBTF) has been awarded to enable retrofit to 231 buses running on key routes in Leeds including those with air quality concerns. As part of First Leeds’ commitment to invest £71million to provide 284 new state-of-the-art buses for its Leeds fleet by the end of 2020, with a number of these having already entered service. Two park and ride sites have been delivered and are proving very successful in the south and east of the city.

For more information and detail about the clean air strategy and clean air charging zone for Leeds visit www.cleanairleeds.co.uk  - the papers will be live on the afternoon of 19 June 2018.

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“Ensuring we reduce pollution levels across the whole city is a real priority for the council and something we are working hard to achieve. As much as the clean air charging zone forms a key part of our preferred scheme – ensuring all our communities are able to breath clean air is the end goal.

“We will be entering into a statutory consultation at the end of June (subject to approval by the executive board) and will be asking for feedback on our preferred scheme for a Clean Air Charging Zone and the clean air strategy for the whole city – including what our ambitions should or could look like after 2020.

“We had a fantastic response to the consultation earlier this year and would like to encourage even more people to have their final say on this crucial piece of work for the city

“The feedback we received in the first part of the consultation has been vital in helping us further shape the direction for the business case – including re-looking at lower charges for buses, and a smaller boundary.

“As part of ensuring we submit a business case that works for the whole city, we are currently engaging with those trades and organisations that will be directly affected by the implementation of a charging zone in Leeds.

“These meetings are vital for us to better understand the support that businesses who operate in the city need to make the move to become ‘compliant’ under the clean air charging zone stipulations.

“Making sure we ask for the right support from the government at this stage will allow us to better prepare and offer support and guidance to businesses through these new changes."

Councillor James Lewis, Leeds City Council executive board member for resources and sustainability

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