Introduction of Clean Air Zones (CAZs) in England has been postponed to January 2021 at the earliest, the government has said.
The development was revealed in a letter sent by Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Minister Rebecca Pow to the Freight Transport Association on Monday 6 April. FTA has been urging that Clean Air Zones are postponed to allow businesses to focus on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.
The letter largely refers to the impact of the pandemic on the freight sector. Ms Pow says that the government still intends to deliver on its obligation to “deliver compliance with air quality limits in the shortest possible time.”
However, she adds that in order to provide certainty to those affected by CAZs, “we will work with local authorities to delay introducing CAZs until after the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak response. We will keep the timetable under review, but we expect the introduction of CAZs to be no earlier than January 2021.”
The Confederation of Passenger Transport has welcomed the news, with Policy Manager Alison Edwards describing the move as “pragmatic”.
Ms Edwards adds: “Coronavirus COVID-19 has meant that many operators are unable to continue with retrofitting or plans to upgrade their existing fleets to meet CAZ requirements.
“Continuing with the rollout of CAZs would have resulted in significant extra costs for an industry that is already being hit hard with cancellations and falling passenger numbers.”
Both Birmingham City Council and Leeds City Council had already written to the government asking for the CAZ in each of those cities to be delayed. They were both due to be introduced in 2020.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.