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11.09.19

Three Tyneside councils set to finalise their plan to improve air quality

Newcastle, Gateshead and North Tyneside councils are set to submit their plan to tackle the air quality of the region following government direction. Cabinet meetings are to be held this month in order to seek the approval of councillors regarding proposals for a Clean Air Zone and a variety of additional measures to be brought in by 2021. 

Initial plans were set to charge private vehicles that polluted the air quality, however revised tactics have been developed by the three councils after concerns were highlighted regarding the effect this may have on the individuals, businesses and the local economy.

The new plans outline that private care drivers will not be charged at this point in time, but this could change once public transport and mitigation measures have been agreed.

Some of the measures needing approval are a Clean Air Zone covering Newcastle City Centre charging non-compliant vehicles from 2021. This includes buses, coaches, taxis, heavy goods vehicles and vans. Changes to the road layout on the Central Motorway, lane restrictions on the Tyne Bridge and changes to local road network in Newcastle and Gateshead will be proposed in an attempt to tackle the problem.

A particularly progressive change to be proposed is the introduction of new delivery hubs for smaller goods vehicles outside of the Clean Air Zones, whereby ‘last-mile’ deliveries are to be made by electric vehicle or cargo bike.   

The government direction means that measures need to be implemented as quickly as possible to bring pollution to within the legal limits. The respective councils are keen to keep disruption to a minimum and ensure that the local economies are not negatively affected. Councillor Arlene Ainsley, cabinet member for Transport and Air quality at Newcastle city council, said “It’s a very uncertain time for the country’s economy for a lot of reasons and we’re trying to avoid adding disruption”

Tyneside Councillor Carl Johnson is realistic that they need help “We are committed to working together to tackle air quality in our region and have developed a package of measures to help us do this. However, as local authorities we can’t do this on our own”

The proposed charges for vehicles that do not meet emissions standards range from £50 per day to £12.50 with buses and coaches expected to face the higher fee and taxis and vans the lower. Cars are currently free but this is subject to change one the other measure have been agreed.

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