Clean Air Zone in Newcastle possible for next summer

A planned Clean Air Zone to cut harmful traffic emissions, improve air quality and protect people’s health in Newcastle could be put in place next summer.

A report to be considered by cabinet members at Newcastle and Gateshead councils later this month sets out updated proposals and a revised timeline for introducing them, including financial support for those likely to be affected by charging.

Councillors will be asked to note the revised clean air measures and the intention to introduce them next summer – with a provisional date of July 2022 being set out.

The Clean Air Zone will help to improve air quality by reducing the number of high-polluting vehicles on the roads both within the zone itself and in the surrounding areas. The zone will cover Newcastle city centre as well as routes over the Tyne, Swing, High Level and Redheugh bridges and will apply to all taxis, vans, buses, coaches and HGVs that do not meet national Clean Air Zone emissions standards.

Similar Clean Air Zone schemes are already operating in Birmingham and Bath with others also planned to be introduced in Bristol, Manchester, Bradford and Portsmouth. Full details of the Tyneside proposals and support measures will be included in a final business case that will be considered at Cabinet and Full Council meetings at both councils in September and October before being submitted to government.

Nick Forbes, leader of Newcastle City Council, said: “It is a fact that our collective transport choices are having a negative impact on the air that we breathe and that we all need to take action to change this and make our city a cleaner, greener and healthier place.

“We know that some businesses and individuals who may be affected by the Clean Air Zone charging will need support and we will be announcing a full package of financial help in the autumn, well in advance of any measures being introduced next year. These measures will ensure we achieve the legal compliance that is required – but more importantly, will help to protect the health of those who live, work, study and spend time in our city.”

Martin Gannon, leader of Gateshead Council, said: “The effect of having lower traffic levels during lockdowns does demonstrate that our actions and transport choices can have a positive impact on our air quality.

“Unfortunately however, traffic levels are now back to pre-Covid levels, with pollution also rising again. This clearly shows that the problem has not gone away and highlights the need for action to be taken. We need to achieve a sustainable improvement in our air quality for the people of Gateshead now and for future generations and we believe that these measures will enable us to achieve this.”

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