Newcastle City Council backs clean air toll plan

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionPrivate cars will be exempt under the latest clean air zone proposals

Plans for a clean air toll in Newcastle city centre have been backed by councillors.

Under the scheme HGVs and buses would be charged £50 to enter the area from 2021 with taxis and vans paying £12.50.

City council leader Nick Forbes said the decision to impose tolls was "not put forward lightly" and was the best option available in the circumstances.

The plans needs approval by Gateshead and North Tyneside Councils before being considered by the government.

Labour's Mr Forbes told the meeting the clean air zone (CAZ) model would comply with a government order to bring down illegal air pollution levels on Tyneside but he would have rather chosen to invest more in public transport.

Lib Dem councillor Greg Stone claimed the scheme would not help polluted areas outside the city centre.

Alongside the fees, the council will also cut traffic on the Tyne Bridge to one lane in each direction in a bid to deter drivers, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Further measures include building delivery hubs outside the city for HGVs and redesigning junctions either side of the Tyne Bridge to avoid queues caused by removing lanes on the crossing.

Originally the toll included private cars, but that was scrapped after objections.

Opponents of the scheme had feared charging private cars would hit the poorest communities hardest because of a possible rise in bus fares.

Forty-one councillors voted in support of the CAZ at the city council meeting on Wednesday, with two against and 11 abstentions.

image copyrightNewcastle City Council
image captionThe Clean Air Zone no longer includes the centre of Gateshead or Gosforth and Wallsend

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