Councils to consult on Clean Air Zones and bridge tolls

Councils to consult on Clean Air Zones and bridge tolls

Cabinet members at Newcastle, Gateshead and North Tyneside councils will meet next week to confirm the proposals for tackling air pollution and improving public health, which will then go out to public consultation.

Options people will be invited to comment on will include a potential charging Clean Air Zone (CAZ) – which the government has told the three councils they must consider. However, it is suggested that even the highest level of CAZ would not be enough on its own to address the problem.

Potential tolls on the three main road bridges over the Tyne (the Tyne, Swing and Redheugh bridges) ard being considered. Under a system of tolls, charges would apply to all lorries, vans and cars regardless of their emissions. Buses and taxis would not be required to pay. Any tolls on bridges would be charged per journey and could be around £3.40 for lorries and £1.70 for vans and cars.

In a charging CAZ, charges would apply to all vehicles that do not meet the government’s minimum emissions standards. Charges would be per day and could be around £50 for lorries, buses and coaches and £12.50 for vans, taxis and cars.

The consultation reflect charges consulted on by other areas – including Leeds and Birmingham – or those in use on existing Tyne crossings. People will be asked to comment on the level of charges as part of the consultation.

Money paid by drivers through charges would be used to cover the cost of running the CAZ or toll system and any surplus would be reinvested in highways and public transport improvements.

Other measures being considered include a Low Emission Zone where lorries, buses and taxis that do not meet minimum emissions requirements could be banned from entering Newcastle City Centre at certain times.

A series of additional non-charging measures are also set out in the cabinet reports and, subject to cabinet approval, people will be given the opportunity to comment on these as part of the consultation, which will run from 6 March to 17 May.

Measures to support people and businesses affected by potential charges are also being considered. This could include financial support or scrappage schemes to help people upgrade their vehicles or help for people on lower incomes to switch to public transport.

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