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Charging Clean Air Zone won’t reduce emissions any quicker, says Coventry

Coventry City Council has reacted to the Government’s rejection of its air quality plans, which has seen it ordered to deploy a charging Clean Air Zone as soon as possible.

Councillor Jim O’Boyle of Coventry City Council has said the Government’s “heavy-handed” tactics won’t cut air pollution any quicker

The local authority is one of 27 towns and cities in the UK where NO2 levels are forecast to exceed legal limits by 2020 and has been working with the Government’s Joint Air Quality Unit to agree an Action Plan to reduce NO2 levels within the city.

An Outline Business Case submitted to JAQU in February saw the council detail how it could cut emissions through measures including the use of electric-powered taxis, retrofitting cleaner engines on 100 buses, introducing new walking and cycling routes, road closures and traffic restrictions.

However, the plans have been rejected by DEFRA, which said the council needed to deploy a charging Clean Air Zone as soon as possible.

In response, councillor Jim O’Boyle from the local authority echoed ongoing comments that the Government has passed the buck on air quality to councils.

He said: “The Government have sat on their hands on the issue of air pollution and they’re handing the responsibility to local authorities up and down the country.

“They haven’t properly respond to our plans that we had put forward.

“There’s no point using heavy-handed tactics without any clear rationale. Our local plan is all evidence-based, we can demonstrate that we can reduce nitrogen oxide levels in the areas of the most concern and I can’t see how a charging zone would reduce emissions any quicker.

“They are asking us to make every arterial road in the city part of a charging zone and that’s completely unacceptable. I don’t think they understand that in Coventry a Clean Air Zone would end up being a series of fragmented zones that would potentially bring the whole city to a standstill – without offering any real long-term solutions for the city.”

Conversations are now taking place with government officials on the way forwards.

“We are happy to talk to government representatives but it really needs to be open and honest,” he added.

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.