Leeds City Council is inviting businesses to apply for £23 million worth of financial support being made available to owners, leaseholders, and operators of affected vehicles to help them prepare for the Clean Air Charging Zone (CAZ).
Grants and interest-free loans are being made available to assist vehicle owners with the costs of switching to less polluting vehicles that won’t be charged for driving within the zone.
Applications are open now for owners of non-scheduled buses and coaches based in or operating within Leeds to apply for grants of up to £16,000 to upgrade or retrofit their non-compliant vehicles.
Operators of heavy goods vehicles will be able to apply for similar £16,000 grants from March 18.
Meanwhile, owners and leaseholders of taxi and private hire vehicles that have been licensed with Leeds City Council for one year or longer will be able to choose between applying for either a £10,000 interest-free loan per vehicle (which can be used towards switching to a compliant model or retrofitting to LPG) or a £1,500 grant per vehicle to cover transitional costs.
Taxi and private hire applications will open to owners and leaseholders of a single vehicle from April 1 and to owners and operators of multiple vehicles from June 1.
Leeds City Council has also confirmed that a number of vehicles—including those used by emergency services, eligible school buses, and those with a historic tax class—will qualify for temporary or permanent exemptions and will not pay charges.
Cllr James Lewis, executive member with responsibility for sustainability and resources, said:
“Having received the green light for it in January, Leeds City Council are working hard to ensure the successful delivery of the Clean Air Charging Zone by January 6.
“Like most resident in Leeds, we believe that tackling air pollution to protect the health of everyone in the city is a priority.
“We recognise that this transition will be difficult for some businesses to make. However, we are pleased to confirm that £23 million of financial support is being made available to directly help those affected.
“By making the switch to cleaner vehicles more affordable for local businesses, this financial support will minimise the zone’s economic impact whilst helping to improve air quality in Leeds.
“With a finite amount of government funding available, we are prioritising support for owners of taxi and private hire vehicles licensed by Leeds City Council.
“Businesses that are likely to be affected need to look at the vehicles they operate and begin taking steps to prepare for the introduction of the zone.
“I encourage those directly affected to visit our website (www.leeds.gov.uk/cleanairzone) to find out more about how the CAZ will work and the financial support packages available.
Evidence shows that exposure to air pollution is linked to a range of health effects: worsening symptoms of asthma, damaging our lungs and reducing our life expectancy.
The Clean Air Charging Zone will reduce air pollution in Leeds by encouraging businesses to transition to cleaner, less polluting vehicles that are not subject to charges for driving within the zone boundary. Private cars, vans or motorcycles will not be charged.
Money from charges will only be used to cover the costs of operating the zone, to support owners of affected vehicles, and for other schemes that will improve air quality in the city.
The Clean Air Charging Zone will come into effect from the 6th January next year.