City leaders call for £1.5bn to support CAZ network

City leaders from across England are calling on the government and the private sector to spend £1.5 billion on a ‘national network’ of 30 Clean Air Zones.

UK100, which represent mayors and city leaders, argue that the funding would mean CAZs could be introduced in all of the places that are predicted to have illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) by 2021 but haven’t already been directed by government to implement a CAZ, such as Leicester, Bolton and Bath.

It could also see £6.5 billion of economic returns, but only if it charges polluting private cars. Therefore, the figure would only apply if all CAZs were the Class D version – which is the only CAZ that charges polluting private cars as well as buses, HGVs and vans.

UK100 says that the money generated would be able to support scrappage schemes and retrofitting incentives, improve public transport and see more electric vehicle charging points installed.

The funding request would be split between £1 billion from the government’s Clean Air Fund, with the remaining £500 million coming from the private sector.

Leeds and Birmingham are the only two cities to have their CAZ plans approved by government with neither opting for the Class D version. No other proposed CAZs in England are Class D with city leaders, including Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees, saying charging drivers of private cars would disproportionately hit poorer car owners.

Polly Billington, Director of UK100, said: “Cleaning up the air in our towns and cities makes sound economic sense and this study demonstrates that. It will boost the health of our communities and save the NHS money.”