The DfT has published a framework setting out the steps councils must take if they are planning to implement and operate clean air zones.
“All clean air zones need to provide businesses and individuals with clear signals on what needs to change to improve air quality, while offering them a range of choices on the action they could take in response, for example about the vehicles they buy and how they use them, knowing they will be acceptable in all zones,” said the DfT.
Clean air zones have been introduced with a specific focus on tackling NO2 concentrations in areas that are breaching legal limits.
Decisions about whether to introduce a charge based CAZ will need to take account of a range of issues both in the zone and in neighbouring areas. These will include the:
• reduction in emissions and concentrations of NO2, and other pollutants required
• type of emission sources that need to be addressed
• type of vehicles that need to be addressed
• scope and boundary of the zone
• implications from any traffic displaced to surrounding areas
• social, economic and health benefits from the introduction of a zone
Prior to the launch of a CAZ, councils must carry out extensive engagement and consultation with neighbouring authorities, local communities and businesses, said the DfT. This should: explain the aims, including the potential health and economic benefits; understand any concerns; and assess the need for any mitigating actions.
In developing a CAZ, “it is important to recognise that the longer businesses and individuals have to make these changes, the easier it will be for them to do so, and therefore the more likely they will”, said the DfT. “However, this needs to be balanced by the ongoing health impacts of pollution. Time will need to be allowed between formally announcing the details of a zone and the beginning of its operation to allow businesses and individuals to adjust.”
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