In July 2017, the UK Government published a plan to reduce NO2 emissions. Coventry was named as one of the 28 towns and cities forecast to exceed legal limits by 2021.
The city council responded by working with the government’s Joint Air Quality Unit to develop the Local Air Quality Action Plan to reduce NO2 emissions in the shortest time. See here for more information.
It appears that the UK government rejected that plan and issued a legal ‘directive’ that Coventry City Council must introduce a Clean Air Zone (CAZ) charge for older vehicles using highly polluted roads, claiming that this would cut emissions significantly ‘in the shortest possible time’.
In Coventry this is frequently known as “the Congestion Charge” although, as noted by reader Mr George Riches, it is not aimed at reducing congestion.
Councillors objected. Cabinet member for jobs and regeneration Councillor Jim O’Boyle said “It is a sledgehammer to crack a nut.”
In a report send to the government, the city council said “The cost of paying the CAZ charge, relative to incomes, disproportionately falls on disadvantaged social groups that have non-compliant vehicles and for who affordability is an issue. These residents are constrained in their ability to afford compliant vehicles and therefore would effectively be forced to pay the charge.”
There are also 52,000 employees who work in the CAZ, along with 3,610 small businesses.
The report adds: “There is likely to be a significant impact on those businesses residing within the city centre as they will be charged for travelling within and travelling back into the city centre where the business is based.”
On 4 June 2019, CoventryLive reported that possible boundaries of the proposed clean air zone had been drawn up, as shown in pink on this map.
The city boundary is shown as a black line.
The proposed Clean Air Zone (CAZ) would be centred around the ring road – an area highlighted by the government as one of the most polluting areas.
This is where an emissions charge might be introduced. Neither this nor the area covered have yet been finalised.
The HighwaysIndustry.com website reported that on 14 June, Coventry City Council submitted its latest proposals to government in a bid to avoid the imposition of a ‘disastrous’ ‘Clean Air Zone’ charge for motorists.