PMQs: PM says Clean Air Zone is ‘unworkable’
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New signage and cameras for the Newcastle and Gateshead Clean Air Zone (CAZ) have been installed and have been in operation for a week. However, drivers will not be made to pay yet, with charging starting from January 2023.
A network of 43 signs and 38 cameras are located at entry points around the boundary of the zone to alert drivers.
Additional signage is in place on approaching routes and inside the zone while electronic signs on key routes are also displaying alerts to inform people about the CAZ.
The CAZ is being introduced to help improve air quality and create a healthier environment by encouraging people and businesses with older, more polluting vehicles to upgrade to cleaner models.
It will cover most of Newcastle city centre as well as routes over the Tyne, Swing, High Level and Redheugh bridges.
Only older higher polluting taxis, vans, buses, coaches and HGVs will be affected by the CAZ.
Drivers and vehicle owners can get help and advice and will be able to apply for financial support towards the cost of vehicle upgrades.
Private cars, motorbikes and low emission vehicles are not affected by the Newcastle and Gateshead Clean Air Zone.
Non-compliant lorries, buses and coaches will be hit with £50-a-day tolls, while the worst polluting vans and taxis will be charged £12.50 per day.
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Councillor Jane Byrne, cabinet member for connected city at Newcastle City Council, said drivers are being made aware of the driving law changes.
She said: “Although the signage and cameras for the Clean Air Zone are now in place, we want to reassure people that there will be no charges until next year and there is still time to get ready.
“Over the next two months we will be collecting details of vehicles entering the zone and contacting owners of non-compliant higher polluting vehicles, which will be affected from January, to make them aware and provide information about how to get support and financial help.
“We know that van drivers are finding it more difficult to replace vehicles at the moment due to national supply issues.”
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As a result, the council are delaying charges for those vehicles to give the drivers and businesses more time to prepare.
Owners of non-compliant vehicles will not have to pay now but will be sent letters that will include information on how to get advice and support with upgrading their vehicle.
Charging will be introduced in two phases – with non-compliant taxis, private hire vehicles, buses, coaches and HGVs being charged from January 30, 2023.
Vans and light goods vehicles will not face charges until July 2023 to allow extra time for vehicle replacements, which are currently affected by a national supply shortage.
Councillor John McElroy, cabinet member for the environment and transport at Gateshead Council, said: “Poor air quality is affecting everyone’s health, which is unacceptable and we have to do something about it.
“Reducing the number of older, more polluting vehicles on our roads is one way that we can help to improve our air quality and protect our health.
“Affected drivers will be able to get support, including applying for financial help towards upgrading a vehicle.
“So we’re encouraging people to check if they are compliant and get in touch to find out about the support available.”
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