Clean Air Zones in UK cities blasted as another ‘money-making scheme’

Birmingham: Head of Clean Air Zone 'optimistic' about success

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Several UK cities now have Clean Air Zones (CAZs) enforced to help improve air quality by charging the most polluting vehicles a fee to encourage more sustainable transport options. Yet, a new poll of readers has found widespread opposition to the schemes.

Bristol will be the next city to launch a CAZ on Monday, November 28, which will see non-compliant petrol and diesel cars, taxis and LGVs being charged £9 to drive in the zone. HGVs, buses and coaches will face daily charges of £100 yet motorbikes, fully-electric and zero-emission vehicles are exempt.

Mayor of Bristol Martin Rees said: “This is an important step on our journey to cleaner air and creating a healthier future for everyone in Bristol.”

He continued: “We need to reduce harmful pollution in the city and reach the legal limits set by Government in the shortest time possible, but we also want to give those who need it, a bit more time to prepare. That could mean upgrading or changing a vehicle or trying out different and more sustainable ways to travel instead.”

Bath, Birmingham and Portsmouth were among the first cities to introduce CAZ in 2021, and many others are beginning to be enforced with Bradford launching last month and a Tyneside CAZ covering Newcastle and Gateshead will begin charging from January 30, 2023.

In a poll that ran from 3pm on Monday, November 14 to 7.30am on Thursday, November 24, asked readers: “Do you support clean air zones in UK cities?”

Overall 1,003 people cast their votes with the vast majority, 91 percent (913 people) answering “no” against the introduction of CAZs.

Eight percent (79 people) said “yes” they did support CAZs and a further one percent (11 people) said they did not know.

Dozens of comments were left below the accompanying article as readers shared their thoughts on the schemes, with most arguing against their implementation.

Many readers cited the cost of CAZ in their comments with username Marley01 declaring: “It’s just another stealth tax.”

Similarly, username Panama Jack wrote: “Its just a money-making scheme.”

Another, username Jon joe said: “Total con, is just about money, another tax, if you have the world’s worst polluting car as long as you pay the charge you can pollute away.”

And username Timo1 added: “It’s you a new tax, the air is much cleaner than in the past.”


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In addition, other readers argued that CAZs would impact businesses and city centres as drivers seek alternatives to paying the fee. Username JohnBro1 said: “If you can’t drive into town with your so-called polluting car you will drive somewhere else to do your shopping. It’s a joke.”

Username EST said: “This will increase the death of the High Street as nobody can afford to travel by car or public transport.”

And username itsallgoingpetetong said: “Paying a charge doesn’t equate to cleaner air as all it does is to shift the problem elsewhere with people changing routes to avoid paying it.”

While username Getting On said: “With cars and trucks changing to EVs the zones will automatically become cleaner. The money spent on cameras etc would be better spent on charging facilities.”

Greater Manchester’s CAZ had been expected to launch in May this year but was postponed in February, allowing for a consultation to take place.

The project was expected to be the largest emissions-based charging zone in the UK but has already cost £62million, according to recent reports.

Stockport councillor Mark Roberts said: “It’s disappointing that the chaos in Westminster is going to be costing taxpayers considerably and the work frankly that our officers have been doing to get better air quality for Manchester.”

A Clean Air GM spokesman said: “Protecting people’s health is a priority and in common with many other areas across the country, Greater Manchester’s 10 local authorities have been working on the basis of a process determined by the Government to develop a plan to clean up our air.”

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