Tory failure on Clean Air Zone measures: backtracking or sheer inefficiency?
This disappointment is perhaps even more significant than the latest personal news items about Boris Johnson.
The original plans for Clean Air Zones in Birmingham and Leeds came after the Government had identified that parts of each city would probably fail legal air quality levels by 2020 and instructed both local authorities to tackle air pollution as soon as possible.
However, the introduction of the UK’s first Clean Air Zones is to be significantly postponed due to a Government delay in delivering the digital systems required to make the zones operational and enforceable.
Both Birmingham City Council and Leeds City Council had been on track to implement Clean Air Zones until they were informed that:
- The vehicle checking software needed to enforce the CAZ, which is being delivered by the Government’s Joint Air Quality Unit (JAQU), will not be available until at least December 2019 — just weeks before the zones were due to come into force in January 2020.
- The government, which was also responsible for delivering the system to collect payments, failed to meet a deadline for handing over the technology to check vehicles entering the charging zone.
In June 2019, therefore, Birmingham City Council announced that the Clean Air Zone (CAZ), which it had planned to introduce in January 2020, would be delayed until July 2020 at the earliest.
Martin Stride, Birmingham Friends of the Earth (BFOE), pointed out the delay will mean that people in those areas of Birmingham shown on the map below, will be exposed to harmful and illegal levels of NO2 for longer than necessary which could adversely affect their health.
BFOE has written to all Birmingham MPs to ask them to take the government to task over the delay and a template letter on its website may be used and adapted..It asked the following questions:
- Will government provide sufficient resources and commitment to ensure that the vehicle checking software will not be delayed any further?
- If the responsibility for delivering the payment collection system is to be passed to the city council, will it provide sufficient support and resources to ensure that this is not delayed?
- To compensate for its part in delaying the introduction of the vehicle charging element of the CAZ, will the government now provide additional funding for other clean air measures which could be implemented quickly?
Birmingham’s transport and environment chief, Coun Waseem Zaffar said the delay was “completely unacceptable” but outside the city council’s control: “The council has been fully on track to implement the Clean Air Zone from January 2020 on the basis of assurances from the Government that the vehicle checker would be in place by October this year.We are now unable to go ahead with our Clean Air Zone in January as planned.”
IS THIS A ONE-OFF SLIP OR THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME?