Bradford to push ahead with 'clean air zone' despite Leeds halting similar scheme

Political leaders in Bradford are set to push ahead with plans for a 'clean air zone' to tackle pollution despite two other Yorkshire cities putting the brakes on similar plans in recent months.

A zone where polluting vehicles are charged to enter could be in place in Bradford district at the beginning of next year if the scheme is approved next week by Bradford council's executive.

The zone is designed to encourage the use of cleaner vehicles by imposing a daily charge for vehicles that do not meet clean air standards, with non-compliant vans charged £9, non-compliant taxis £12.50 and non-compliant lorries, buses and coaches £50.

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An aerial view of Bradford city centre. Byline: SHAHID A KHAN. Copyright: ©SakhanPhotography -

If approved at the meeting on March 2 the system should be operational by January 2022 and Bradford would join cities like Bath and Birmingham, both of whom are bringing in clean air zones this year.

But a number of local authorities have decided not to go ahead with similar schemes, including Leeds.

In Leeds, the city's much-delayed £29m scheme was paused in August due to unexpectedly positive air quality levels. It was later scrapped because it was no longer necessary, due to businesses switching to cleaner vehicles faster than expected.

And in Sheffield, the proposed clean air zone for the city is under review because of the impact of the pandemic, as air pollution levels dropped by 33 per cent in eight months last year. The council is also aware many businesses are struggling and says if it can “hold on” to clean air through other measures without resorting to charging people, it will.

The Government has directed Labour-run Bradford council to draw up plans to bring down nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels in the district to within legal limits as soon as possible.

Air pollution is linked to around 200 preventable deaths each year and causes the ill-health of other residents in the district - particularly those with respiratory conditions.

The zone will include Bradford city centre, from and including the outer ring road, extending up the Canal Road corridor and Manningham Lane into Shipley and Saltaire.

It is hoped it will encourage vehicle owners to switch to environmentally friendly vehicles, or upgrade their existing vehicles, as cleaner, less-polluting vehicles will be allowed to use the zone for free.

Around £31 million of government funding will be available to support businesses affected by the zone. More than £10 million of that has been earmarked to support the taxi trade.

Councillor Sarah Ferriby, Bradford council's portfolio holder for Healthy People and Healthy Places, said: “The Government clearly recognises the urgent need to address poor air quality and improve health in parts of the city.

"The Clean Air Fund award is one of the highest announced so far, enabling the council to offer attractive grants to local businesses, and to develop a low emission economy in the city.”