Birmingham City Council (BCC) and Leeds City Council (LCC) have separately written to the government requesting that the introduction of the Clean Air Zones (CAZs) in each city is postponed due to the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.
LCC Leader Judith Blake believes that it “would not be appropriate” for a CAZ to be introduced in Leeds on 28 September as planned. The council has thus asked for more time to put the city’s CAZ into place. No new date has yet been announced.
In Birmingham, Cllr Waseem Zaffar has written to both Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs George Eustace and Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps requesting a delay to the city’s CAZ until “at the least the end of this year.”
Cllr Zaffar says businesses in the city are currently focused on supporting their employees through the pandemic rather than upgrading their fleets. Also, BCC’s delivery partners are experiencing a “high level of uncertainty” and they are finding it difficult to provide long-term guarantees.
However, BCC still believes that a CAZ is the most effective way of improving Birmingham’s air quality. Cllr Zaffar adds that a revised date for introduction of the city’s CAZ will be announced soon.
Accompanying the postponed Clean Air Zones, plans to launch a zero-emission zone in Oxford have also been postponed. Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council say that the first stage – the ‘red zone’ – is likely to go live in summer 2021 against an originally planned date of December 2020.