PLANS to force Coventry council to charge motorists to use the city’s streets have been scrapped, a minister has confirmed.
Writing to council leader George Duggins, environment minister Rebecca Pow MP said “I am content that you should proceed with implementing your preferred alternative option to a charging CAZ [Clean Air Zone]…”
In a statement, Coventry City Council said: “The government has written to the council in support of local proposals which set out a series of measures to reduce nitrogen dioxide emissions, benefiting residents through cleaner air and better health.
“It means Coventry does not need a Class D charging Clean Air Zone (CAZ), which would have seen higher emission vehicles charged for entering a large area of the city.”
The council will now need to ensure its plans for alternative ways of reducing nitrogen dioxide emissions are sent to ministers by June 19.
Coun Jim O’Boyle said ‘the news is excellent’ and that it ‘reflected the overwhelming views of local people and businesses.’
He said: “In June last year we clearly set out to the government why a clean air zone would not work in Coventry and is not needed.
“More than six months on they have confirmed what we have always said.
“What we all know is that it is absolutely vital that we tackle air pollution – and particularly vehicle emissions.
“We know the health risks of Nitrogen Dioxide and that is why we want to address this through a package of measures including: highways engineering; improved traffic management; cycle routes; travel planning; upgrading bus fleet; supporting a shift to electric taxis; and encouraging the uptake of electric cars and installing more charging points.
“We have a lot do.”
The council added it has been working closely with the government’s Joint Air Quality Unit throughout and the council’s position was consistently against a CAZ.
Coun O’Boyle added: “This is excellent news and means any CAZ that would have been imposed – affecting 82,000 residents or 25 per cent of our residents – has been stopped.
“A CAZ in Coventry would have potentially created worse air quality on many residential roads bordering the charging zone as drivers would have sought alternative routes to avoid the CAZ.”
In May 2019, the government rejected Coventry’s original alternative plans to a clean air zone, as it sought to crackdown on city centre exhaust pollution in major city centres such as Birmingham, Bristol and Leeds.
At the time, Defra hinted it could work with the council to ensure the city centre was free of a ‘congestion charge’ – a spokesperson for department said: “Defra have directed Coventry to implement a Class D zone as their own modelling shows that this is the option that delivers compliance more quickly than others and so is the one that meets legal requirements. We continue to work with them and would consider alternative options if they can demonstrate that they deliver compliance as soon as (or earlier) than the class D zone.”
The council says it will continue to consult with local people over the coming weeks about the plans being identified.
Capacity improvements on the B4106 through Spon End and Junction 7 of the Ring Road, including improved routes for pedestrians and cyclists;
Opening Upper Hill Street onto the Ring Road, giving left in/left out access to the Ring Road via the clockwise on-slip road at Junction 8 and allowing Barras Lane to be closed;
Closure of Barras Lane between the A4114 Holyhead Road and Coundon Road/Upper Hill Street allowing the removal of the signals at the Barras Lane / Holyhead Road junction;
Reducing the number of polluting vehicles by introducing restrictions on the eastern section of the A4114 Holyhead Road on the approach to Junction 8;
Construction of a segregated cycle route linking Coundon with the city centre along Coundon Road and Upper Hill Street;
Engagement initiative (travel planning) for schools, businesses and communities along Holyhead Road Corridor;
Banning the right turn from Cash’s Lane onto Foleshill Road
HGV ban on part of Foleshill Road;
Assigning electric buses to Foleshill Road.
Coventry has been awarded grant funding of £24.5m to implement the schemes.
Support community journalism by making a contribution
The Coventry Observer's team of journalists provide a trusted source of news, sport, entertainment and events going on in your area and issues which matter to you - both via our free weekly print edition and daily updates on our website.
Every contribution, however big or small, you can make will help us continue to do that now and in the future.
Thanks for reading this and the Coventry Observer.