Leeds council chief wants to make 'as little money as possible' from clean air charging zone

A council chief has claimed the authority wants to make 'as little money as possible' from the planned clean air charging zone in Leeds.

High-polluting taxis, HGVs and buses will be subject to charges for using roads in and around the city centre.

Deputy leader Coun James Lewis told a Leeds City Council licensing committee meeting that although charges for Leeds-licensed taxi drivers would be set at £50 a week, generating cash is not the priority.

The comments came as members of the panel discussed plans to charge high-polluting HGVs, buses and taxis for driving in and around Leeds City Centre.

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Coun Lewis said: “The purpose of the clean air charging zone isn’t to make money, it is to make sure vehicles are compliant.

“We want to make as little money as possible from it, because that would mean vehicles are compliant.”

In order to implement the scheme, the authority plans to create a network of cameras within the charging zone to read the number plates of vehicles. These would then be checked against a proposed government database of vehicles, and the appropriate charge would be sent to the driver.

But concerns were raised by members of the committee over what would happen if the government did not create such a database in time for the start date in January 2020.

Coun Lewis responded: “The national database is something the government needs to do to meet its requirements.

“We need to achieve the implementation date so we are not in the firing line.

“Our priority is doing all the things that we can do to make sure the clean air zone is in place.

“We have to work on the assurance that the national database will be in place in time.”

The proposed clean air charging zone (CAZ) in and around Leeds city centre would charge high polluting taxis and private hire vehicles registered outside the city £12.50 a day. Meanwhile, non-eco-friendly HGVs and buses would pay £50 a day, and taxi and private hire vehicles registered in Leeds would pay £50 a week for coming into the zone. The charges would not affect private vehicles.

Leeds’s clean air charging zone is part of a £40m raft of work to improve the city’s air quality, following a ruling from the European Union.