CAZ delayed in both Birmingham and Leeds

Birmingham City Council and Leeds City Council have blamed the government for a delay to the implementation of both cities’ charging Clean Air Zones (CAZs), which were planned to come into force in January 2020.

The postponement period is likely to be “significant,” the two local authorities (LAs) say in a joint statement, but no exact date has been given.

They blame the failure of the Joint Air Quality Unit (JAQU) to produce a vehicle checker tool in time, and the transfer of responsibility for delivering a system to collect payments from non-compliant vehicles to LAs. Both councils claim that the government earlier said it would deliver the latter.

JAQU has confirmed that it will not provide the vehicle checker until at least December. Both LAs’ implementation plans were based on it being ready in October.

Leeds City Council Deputy Leader Cllr James Lewis says that financial support for operators of affected vehicles will still be provided. “Doing so is the best way to improve air quality prior to the charging zone’s introduction.” Installation of camera infrastructure in Leeds will also begin soon.

Birmingham City Council Cabinet Member for Transport and Environment, Cllr Waseem Zaffar, says that going ahead with a CAZ in January would be “completely unfair” on businesses, although he concedes that those affected will now have longer to implement the changes required to comply.

Under the plans for both cities, coaches and buses that do not meet Euro 6 emission standards will be subject to a £50 daily charge to enter each CAZ.

In Leeds, money has been made available to contribute to retrofit or replacement of non-compliant vehicles based within the zone. Birmingham City Council has established a “compliance fund” to assist. A short-term partial exemption for some coaches based within the Birmingham CAZ will also be introduced.