£13m camera network to monitor number plates in Leeds

Around 140 sets of new CCTV cameras will monitor vehicles' number plates in and around Leeds City Centre, according to a new report from the authority.

What do you think the quality of Leeds's air is?
What do you think the quality of Leeds's air is?

A report out today from Leeds City Council outlines plans for the area’s planned clean air charging zone, which is expected to come into effect in January 2020.

It follows demands from the European Union for the city to combat what it believes are excessive levels of air pollution, and would involve taxing high-polluting taxis, HGVs and buses using areas around the city centre.

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The report said sites have been identified for a network of cameras to capture details of all vehicle number plates. These would then be checked against a “National Payment Portal”, developed by central government, which would determine which vehicles were not compliant with air quality standards.

The report adds: “Over 140 sites have been selected to enforce the CAZ to ensure a comprehensive network of cameras is delivered to capture all non-compliant vehicles and prevent vehicular rat running.”

The network of cameras, along with signage and resources to support it, is expected to cost around £13m, and the council will submit a bid for a grant to the Government’s implementation fund to pay for the work.

The clean air charging zone would see high-emission HGVs and buses being charged £50 a day, while taxis and private hire vehicles registered in the city would pay £50 a week.

Cars used by members of the public would be exempt from the charges.

As part of the plans, loans are expected to be made available for drivers in order to help their vehicles comply with the new rules.

Subject to government funding, interest free loans of up to £10,000 would be available to upgrade taxi and private hire vehicles.

A grant of up to £16,000 to upgrade each high-polluting HGV vehicles would also be available.

The total amount of government funding being sought by Leeds City Council adds up to £40m. It is anticipated the government will make a decision on the grants by December this year.

Coun James Lewis, the council’s executive member with responsibility for sustainability and the environment, said: “The plans we’re putting forward have been carefully developed following months of consultation with thousands of residents and local businesses to ensure they are the best plans for Leeds.

“They will improve air quality within the shortest possible time, tackling air pollution and protecting the health of everyone in the city.

“A key element of these proposals is the support we’re proposing to help affected local businesses transition to cleaner vehicles which avoid charges. We believe that it is important to help local businesses in order for the zone to most successfully reduce pollution.

“We will therefore be asking the government for around £27 million from the national Clean Air Fund to enable us to help businesses transition to cleaner vehicles which avoid charges.

“We look forward to continuing working closely with the government to ensure the successful and timely delivery of the Clean Air Charging Zone in Leeds.”

The plans will be discussed be Leeds City Council’s executive board on October 17.