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Virus could delay launch of CAZs

23 March 2020

The launch of England’s first two charging clean air zones may be delayed by COVID-19.

Birmingham and Leeds city councils are due to implement their CAZs this summer. 

The Road Haulage Association has called for councils to defer the launch of CAZs for at least six months.

Birmingham’s scheme covers the city centre within the ring road and will be a Class D zone covering cars as well as buses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles, lorries and vans.   

In a statement, Birmingham City Council told LTT: “We remain committed to launching the clean air zone in line with the previously-stated estimate of summer 2020. However, we are conscious of the potential economic impact that COVID-19 may have on our plans and will continue to monitor the situation closely.

“Any announcements related to COVID-19 will be made in a structured, regular way rather than responding to ad hoc queries or speculation.”

Leeds City Council’s CAZ is a Class B scheme, applying to buses, coaches, lorries, taxis and private hire vehicles, and covering the city centre and a large part of inner Leeds. 

The council’s executive board was due to approve a report this week recommending that the CAZ go live on 28 September. The meeting was cancelled because of the virus outbreak.  

With road traffic volumes down across the country because of the virus, exceedances of the EU nitrogen dioxide limit values are likely to decline across the country, albeit temporarily.  

London mayor Sadiq Khan is keeping the idea of temporarily suspending the central London congestion charge under review.

Asked if it may be suspended, a spokeswoman for the mayor told LTT: “As always, the mayor and Transport for London are focused on the safety of staff and customers. The roads need to be kept clear for essential journeys and whilst charges for driving into London currently still apply, we will keep this under review as the situation develops.

“Some NHS staff are already eligible for reimbursements from the congestion charge in certain circumstances. Patients clinically assessed as too sick to travel by public transport are eligible for reimbursements from both the congestion charge and the ULEZ.”  

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