Leeds Council's free trial for electric vehicles aims to cut pollution

image copyrightLeeds City Council
image captionThe trial vehicles include Nissan and Renault vans and Nissan Leaf cars, said Leeds City Council

Businesses and charities are being offered the free use of an electric vehicle on a two-month trial.

The scheme, which will run for two years, is aimed at reducing vehicle emissions and improving air quality in West Yorkshire.

Run by Leeds City Council and Highways England, it includes the use of vans, private hire vehicles and e-bikes.

More than 250 companies and drivers have already expressed an interest in the scheme, said the council.

To qualify, private hire drivers need to be licensed in Leeds while charities and organisations must be based in West Yorkshire.

In 2019, environmental group Friends of the Earth claimed a street in the city centre was the most polluted outside London.

image copyrightLeeds City Council
image captionBusinesses in the scheme are to get help to calculate potential savings of electric vehicle use

The number of electric and hybrid vehicles registered in the region has more than doubled since 2017 and the trial hopes to increase these figures, the council said.

There are more than 290 public charging points in the county, it said.

Councillor James Lewis said: "Not only are electric vehicles better for the environment, they're also cheaper to run and maintain than traditional diesel and petrol vehicles."

Transport accounts for 23% of the UK's CO2 emissions, more than any other sector, according a Committee on Climate change report.

Leeds City Council was due to introduce a Clean Air Zone (CAZ) this month meaning owners of heavy polluting lorries, coaches, taxis and private hire vehicles would be charged for entering parts of Leeds.

Electric vehicles, including those provided through the scheme, would be exempt from charges.

The start of the CAZ has been delayed but the council said it hoped to introduce a new date soon.

image captionLeeds City Council is planning to introduce a Clean Air Charging Zone in parts of the city

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