Coventry & Warwickshire

Clean air charge to improve air quality in Coventry

A footbridge leading to the city centre September 4, 2017 in Coventry, England. Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A congestion charge will now be imposed in Coventry on drivers of high-polluting vehicles

Coventry has been ordered to introduce a clear air zone by the government, which rejected the council's own plans to tackle pollution in the city.

Coventry City Council has been under pressure to cut toxic emissions that are forecast to exceed legal limits.

A congestion charge will now be imposed on drivers of high-polluting vehicles such as buses, lorries and older cars.

A city councillor said the directive was "heavy-handed" and could "bring the whole city to a standstill".

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Coventry City Council's £83m plan to improve air quality included the introduction of electric-powered taxis, cleaner bus engines and new walking and cycling routes.

The council now has until June 14 to respond to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), which has directed it to implement a clean air zone instead.

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Image copyright Coventry City Council
Image caption The council's action plan to improve air quality has been rejected by the government

A similar scheme in Birmingham will see high emission car and van drivers pay £8 per day on city routes.

A DEFRA spokesman said it had issued the direction because a congestion charge "was the benchmark option set out in Coventry's local plan for achieving compliance with legal air quality limits in the shortest possible time.

"The government has awarded them £4.5m... to start this work."

Councillor Jim O'Boyle accused the government of not responding properly to the authority's plans.

"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."

It is not yet known where the zone would be implemented.

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