Leeds CAZ to include funding for coach retrofit?

£2m likely to be available; exemptions and ‘sunset period’ are also proposed in report to Exec Board

Leeds City Council plans to offer financial support for coach Euro 6 retrofit

The Leeds Clean Air Zone (CAZ) will go live on 6 January 2020, a report to the Executive Board of Leeds City Council (LCC) has confirmed.

Following a consultation, the CAZ proposals now include a number of exemptions and ‘sunset periods’ for coach and bus operators ahead of the requirement for vehicles to be Euro 6 standard. Additionally, the daily charge for non-compliance will be cut from £100 to £50.

Sympathetic to the plight?

The scheduled bus sector has already “benefited greatly” from the Clean Bus Technology Fund, says the report, with over £4m being made available in Leeds and West Yorkshire for retrofit to Euro 6 standard.

Coach operators, and those of non-scheduled bus services, have not been as fortunate. LCC estimates that there are 137 PCVs in those sectors based within the CAZ. A further 100 operate in the Leeds area.

Concerns raised by those operators centre on a lack of availability of exhaust retrofit equipment, and that the timescale to implementation of the CAZ is too short to permit vehicle replacement.

One of the resulting proposed exemptions will apply to vehicles that transport pupils to state schools in Leeds. They will need only be above Euro 3 as a minimum.

Additionally, thanks to limited progress in coach retrofit, and over-demand in other markets, the report proposes a ‘sunset period’. It will allow operators that have ordered either a compliant vehicle or retrofit equipment by a date that is yet to be defined to be exempt from the daily charge.

“The company will have to prove that it has placed an order and that a replacement compliant vehicle is due to be delivered, or that the retrofit will be complete within a reasonable time,” it says. “This is considered appropriately reasonable in these circumstances. The CAZ proposals are not considered to be a revenue-raising mechanism, but are intended as a means of securing compliance with the legal limit… in the shortest possible time.”

Coach grants planned

LCC proposes grants to help the transition to CAZ compliance. Most notably, they include funding for coach retrofit for what is thought to be the first time. The money will only be available for coaches and non-scheduled buses that operate primarily within the CAZ. Evidence of that, and of their impact on air quality, will be required, and funds will be allocated by a competitive method.

£2m has been requested for this project from the Clean Air Fund. At a theoretical £25,000 per vehicle, that is enough for at least 80 to be dealt with, although it is not known whether the money will cover the full cost of the exercise or part of it.

Additionally, LCC says that it will continue to work with retrofit providers to expedite the development of equipment for coaches. It will also lobby central government to support that process.

Read the report at bit.ly/2RGddxY