April 9, 2020
It has been announced this month that clean air zones (CAZ) will no longer be implemented this year as planned in a number of cities including Birmingham, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This may bring some relief to drivers within the current bleak situation of the taxi industry, where up to four from every five black cab and private hire drivers have been forced off the road indefinitely whilst the world fights the virus.
A Consolidated Relief Effort
Despite the Government’s legal requirement to adhere to regulations around air quality as quickly as possible, we are in unprecedented times. While we try to navigate our way through a constantly evolving situation, existing policies and strategies being put in place by must be adapted in order to create a consolidated approach to resolve the issue and minimise the impact on society as a whole.
A spokesperson for the UK Government confirmed this decision, stating that they sympathise with the demand being placed on local authorities at this time and that their continued efforts in fighting the coronavirus outbreak must be prioritised. She said: “We have agreed with Leeds, Birmingham and Bath to delay the introduction of clean air zones in their areas until after January 2021 to help them focus on their response to coronavirus”.
This decision was one which was urged by, and is fully backed by, the Freight Transport Association (FTA). Head of urban policy Natalie Chapman stated: “While FTA and its members support fully the Government’s ambition to improve air quality across the UK, to achieve compliance with the scheme businesses would have to undertake significant work and planning. With the industry focusing all its attention on ensuring the public, supermarkets and other retailers continue to receive the essential items they need during the pandemic, logistics businesses simply to not have the resources to dedicate to preparing for the imminent introduction of CAZs”.
This follows a plea from cities including Birmingham and Leeds, where the policy was due to go live in August and September respectively, to make this delay. It would have meant a charge of £8 per day in Birmingham and £12.50 a day in Leeds to taxis that did not meet the required low emissions standards.
The updated schedule to implement the strategy will be reviewed at a later date but will now be put in place no earlier than January 2021.