Will South Leeds get clean air?

South Leeds outside city’s Clean Air Zone, but Council promises better air quality

Residents have been shocked to see changes to Leeds City Council’s proposed Clean Air Zone (CAZ), which leaves South Leeds out of the zone.

With some of the highest levels of lung disease, asthma and COPD in the city, it seemed we were getting the short end of the stick once again. But Council leaders are keen to stress this is not the case and that South Leeds will benefit as much as other parts of the city from the scheme.

Cllr James Lewis, Executive Member responsible for the scheme told South Leeds Life:

“The Clean Air Zone is not like the Smokeless Zones of the 1950s. The air will not be clean inside the zone and dirty outside the zone.

“We are targeting buses, taxis, private hire vehicles and heavy goods vehicles (HGVs). Our aim is the encourage owners of those vehicles to reduce their emissions.”

Three major junctions along the Inner Ring Road, currently measure illegally high levels of emissions. The aim of the zone is to deflect traffic that doesn’t need to be there away from the area and make sure the vehicles that are there are producing less pollutants.

Cllr Lewis is confident that all First and Arriva buses operating in Leeds will meet the new standards by 2020 when the CAZ is due to start. Taxi and Private Hire operators are already moving towards electric, hybrid and other low emission vehicles as they naturally update their fleet. Financial support will be made available to help them speed up this process.

“These are the most important vehicles for most residents in South Leeds. You don’t see many HGVs going up and down Belle Isle Road, but there are plenty of buses and taxis” explained Cllr Lewis.

“Because these vehicles also travel through the CAZ they will have to meet that standard – so they will be cleaner and that will benefit South Leeds residents”

The Councillors for Beeston & Holbeck, Middleton Park and Hunslet & Riverside wards said:

“The proposal for a Clean Air Zone will be discussed at Executive Board with a recommendation for consultation to start from Thursday 28 June. In addition to this work, our priority going forward is to work with communities across Inner South Leeds to prioritise measures to improve air quality across the whole area.”