Air pollution contributes to 500 deaths a year in Sheffield, causing strokes, lung cancer and cardiovascular disease.
The biggest cause of pollution is transport, especially diesel vehicles. The UK, including Sheffield, has been in breach of the legal limits for Nitrogen Dioxide (NO₂) levels since January 2010.
What we plan to do
We need to bring NO2 emissions within legal limits as quickly as possible. We have considered a range of options to reduce pollution and our preferred solution is to introduce a ‘category C’ Clean Air Zone.
This means that buses, taxis, vans and lorries that do not meet our emissions standards will have to pay to drive in and around the zone.
Why we have chosen a Clean Air Zone
The zone will discourage the use of high polluting vehicles from the city centre and encourage upgrades to cleaner, low or no emission vehicles. The impact of the zone will be much broader than the city centre and it should reduce pollution across our neighbourhoods and communities.
We are not aiming to make money from the zone. The annual cost of air pollution to the UK is £20 billion and 40,000 lives. Switching to cleaner vehicles saves significantly more money from the public purse than the pollution charge will add.
Where the zone will be
The Clean Air Zone will cover the inner ring road and the city centre, including Park Square and the A61/Parkway junction. The proposed zone is not final and may be subject to minor changes through feedback from the consultation.
When this would happen
We plan to introduce the Clean Air Zone in early 2021. The proposals were agreed by Sheffield City Council’s Cabinet in November 2018, and submitted to the Government's Joint Air Quality Unit (JAQU) on 24 December 2018.
It is part of the city’s Clean Air Strategy and longer term ambitions to tackle climate and environmental emergencies.
Our proposed emissions standards
Vehicles that meet these standards would not be charged:
- Taxis which are ultra-low emissions (hybrid, electric and hydrogen fuel cell) or Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG)
- LGVs and Minibuses with Euro 6 Diesel or Euro 4 Petrol
- Buses and Coaches with Euro 6 Diesel
- HGVs with Euro 6 Diesel
What the pollution charges will be
Vehicles that do not meet these standards would be charged:
- £10 per day for polluting LGVs and Taxis
- £50 per day for coaches, buses and HGVs
We are not charging private cars
We are not currently planning to charge private cars for entering the city centre. Private cars make up 80% of road traffic, but only contribute 50% of the pollution.
Buses, HGVs and taxis are responsible for half of our air pollution but only make up 20% of traffic and, by focussing on them, we can reduce air pollution as quickly as possible.
How taxis will be affected and what support will be available
Under our plans for the Clean Air Zone:
- Black Cabs/Hackney Carriages will have to be electric or liquid petroleum gas (LPG)
- Private Hire Vehicles (PHVs) will have to be ULEV – either hybrid, electric of hydrogen powered
If vehicles do not meet these standards then they will face a £10 charge for entering the Clean Air Zone.
How we can help
This is a considerable burden placed on taxi drivers to upgrade. However, we must reach legal levels of air pollution by 2021 and to help taxi drivers upgrade we are proposing the following packages of support:
- interest-free loans for a replacement private hire vehicle compliant with the Clean Air Zone
- a grant for diesel Hackney Carriages to be converted to liquid petroleum gas (LPG)
- for Hackney Carriages too old to convert, an interest-free loan is available to replace your vehicle with an electric taxi
Diesel is too polluting to be permitted
Our research and modelling has shown that even the cleanest diesel engines – Euro 6 standard – are too polluting for our taxi fleet. There is not enough improvement between Euro 4 and Euro 6 to permit a diesel-powered fleet.
Input from you is vital in shaping how we make the transition. However, we are time limited and long phasing-out periods, sunset periods and exemptions may not be feasible if we are to achieve compliance by the 2021 deadline.
Support for vehicles to reduce emissions
We are asking the Government for around £50 million to help those people whose livelihoods depend on a van or a taxi. This support will be used to upgrade or replace their old, polluting vehicles.
How we decided on these plans
We have considered different options to improve air quality as quickly as possible. The plan we have chosen is our preferred option. By focusing on the most polluting vehicles, we can reduce air pollution to legal levels as quickly as possible. These plans also mean we can support taxi and van drivers to upgrade their vehicles with loans and grants.
We have used data specific to the city and modelled this plan against other options. This includes charging all of the most polluting vehicles. Doing nothing is not an option.
The evidence behind our plans is available in the Outline Business Case along with the supporting data. This has been submitted to the Joint Air Quality Unit for approval.