Councillors in Newcastle have backed plans for a charging clean air zone (CAZ) in the city centre.
A meeting of the full Newcastle City Council agreed the ‘Breathe’ joint clean air plan for Newcastle, Gateshead and North Tyneside, which will go before the North Tyneside cabinet and the full council at Gateshead next week.
Under the scheme HGVs and buses would be charged £50 to enter the area from 2021 with taxis and vans paying £12.50.
However, plans to charge private cars have been shelved after the council claimed its new package could achieve compliance with legal pollution limits in the same year, 2021, ‘while also reducing many negative impacts’.
A report to councillors states: ‘While, by means of this report, the authorities are proposing not to charge private vehicles in the first year of a charging scheme, we must keep all potential measures under consideration.’
Launching the plan last month, Cllr Arlene Ainsley, cabinet member for transport and air quality at Newcastle City Council, said: ‘The Government has issued us with a legal order to take action to improve our air quality as quickly as possible and unfortunately there are no easy answers to this.
‘However, we believe we have now developed a package of measures that will achieve the reduction in pollution that we need to see, within the timescales we have been set while minimising any negative impact on businesses and individuals.’
The proposed package, which is subject to government approval and funding is Class C CAZ with traffic management changes north and south of the River Tyne and ‘a wide range of mitigation and support measures including grants for affected businesses/individuals, public transport priority measures, and the development of a School Streets initiative to improve air quality near schools’.
A class D zone would have gone even further and charged private vehicles.
Traffic management measures include lane restrictions on the Tyne Bridge and changes to the road layout on approaching routes, including Central Motorway and roads in Gateshead.