• September 9, 2020

  • Abby Nuttall

During the coronavirus lockdown many local authorities have seen a reduction in traffic in their city centres and now they exploring how to keep the cleaner air quality and benefits it brings.

We’ve previously written about plans in Bath, Birmingham, Cardiff, Coventry, Glasgow, Nottingham and Oxford for Clean Air Zones (CAZs) and other emission reducing strategies,  although some of these have been delayed due to the pandemic.

Oxford City Council was already set to become the first UK local authority to set out a city-wide air pollution reduction target and is still on track for this, despite the delay caused by the lockdown. Public consultation on the new Air Quality Action Plan 2021-2025 will begin later this month

Leeds and Bristol have advised they’re reviewing the plans they had to introduce charging CAZs and looking at other ways that they can keep pollution below the legal limits.

Leeds City Council is working closely with the central government to look at the long-term impact that the pandemic and other factors will have on the city’s air quality and if pollution levels are expected to stay below the legal limits then the government will no longer support a charging CAZ.

Bristol City Council have also said they’ve seen a significant reduction in air pollution since the pandemic hit. The latest air quality data shows that despite an increase in traffic the centre’s pollution has remained low.  If it continues to remain below the legal limits then like Leeds Bristol will no longer have financial support from the government to introduce a CAZ.  

The council has advised that they are looking at alternatives like accelerating city transport improvements, including increased walking and cycling routes, pedestrianizing areas and improving public transport links.

In Manchester, the city council are expected to begin consultations on the introduction of a CAZ next month.

Although Scotland and England have been managing their Coronavirus policies separately, the Scottish government has also restarted planning for Low Emission Zones (LEZs). Schemes in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow were due to go live this year but were placed on hold because of the pandemic. These are now due to go live between February 2022 and May 2022. You can find out more on the Transport Scotland website.

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