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Decision details

Sheffield and Rotherham Clean Air Plan

Decision Maker: Co-operative Executive

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: Yes


Sheffield has locations that exceeded legal Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) limits.  Sheffield and Rotherham have been legal Direction by Government to achieve legal limits within the shortest possible time via measures included within their local Clean Air Plan.


Update following the review of the Clean Air Plan which includes a proposed charging zone in Sheffield and financial mitigation packages for vehicle upgrades.





The report updates Co-operative Executive on the development of the Sheffield and Rotherham Clean Air Plan (CAP) to tackle Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) exceedances and sets out the actions required to achieve compliance with our Direction by Government to reach legally compliant annual average levels of NO2, In summary these are:


  • Proceeding with the recommended CAP proposals which includes establishing a Category C charging Clean Air Zone (CAZ) within Sheffield City Centre with wider traffic management measures.
  • Accepting the grant funding received from Government in March 2020
  • Commencing public consultation in November 2021.
  • Submission of the Full Business Case to Government early in 2022 including any revisions arising from the consultation
  • Completing the procurement, and thereafter contract awards, for any necessary infrastructure, goods and services required, together with any other such steps, to implement and meet the aims and objectives of the Clean Air Plan.
  • To report to the Executive on the consultation findings early in 2022.



In common with other cities, air pollution is a major public health challenge that is damaging the health and life chances of people in Sheffield, contributing to the deaths of around 500 people a year in the city. Multiple places across our road network are in breach of legal limits for air quality with road vehicles (and particularly diesel vehicles), exposing communities to invisible but harmful concentrations of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO?).


In 2017 Government placed Sheffield and Rotherham under a legal duty to improve the city’s air quality by reducing NO? emissions below the legal limits in the shortest possible time.


In response, SCC and RMBC developed and submitted an Outline Business Case (OBC) to Government in December 2018, which identified the option to deliver compliance was a Category C+ Charging Clean Air Zone on and within the Inner Ring Road, along with a number of additional traffic management measures.


In February 2020 Government issued a further Ministerial Direction under which SCC are legally obliged to implement a CAZ C charging Clean Air Zone.


Having announced a review of our Clean Air Plan in September 2020, to consider the implications of Covid-19 and the lengthy period between the submission and Government’s approval of the OBC, this is now complete.


The outcome of the review of the Clean Air Plan has confirmed that in order to achieve legally compliant levels of air quality in Sheffield we need to deliver a Class C Clean Air Zone along with wider traffic management measures. The review has also confirmed that the original proposals around the compliance standards for taxis can be amended to incorporate the current standards without major additional burdens on the majority of the existing taxi fleet . 


The primary goal of the proposed Clean Air Zone is to encourage and support the removal of the most polluting vehicles from the city’s roads in order to make our air cleaner and safer to breathe. It is not the intention to penalise drivers or companies and the report sets out the proposed financial support measures that will be offered to certain drivers to upgrade and replace non-compliant vehicles. In addition, the report includes details of specific fleet where circumstances determine that an exemption to charges is appropriate. 


The CAP proposals are significant and form part of Sheffield’s ambitions to deliver clean air for everyone and support the development of safe, reliable and clean transport options in the city.


Given the proposals to see the continued regeneration of the City Centre and the delivery of approximately 21,000 new homes in the central area, the importance of making our air cleaner and safer to breathe must be a pre-requisite to continued development. The proposals for the City Centre Vision will highlight this aspect further.


Whilst a major consultation on our CAP proposals was undertaken in Summer 2019, given the time that has elapsed and the development of the scheme, it is now proposed that consultation on the final Clean Air Plan proposals is undertaken. This will provide an opportunity for people to give feedback on the full details of the scheme, including financial support measures and exemptions, the detail of which was not previously available.


Alongside this, the Full Business Case will be developed in liaison with Government’s Joint Air Quality Unit (JAQU), but only finalised once the outcome of the consultation is known and any final amendments to the scheme are made where necessary. In addition, arrangements to distribute funds to support those businesses, individuals and organisations who need to upgrade their vehicle to become compliant will be finalised and in line with existing delegated authority the delivery of the Clean Air Zone infrastructure will continue to be progressed.




RESOLVED: That Co-operative Executive:-


  1. Approve acceptance of the grant funding of £23,967,436 awarded in March 2020 from the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the Department for Transport to enable the Council to comply with its statutory duty through the measures described in the report;


  1. Approves the launch of further consultation on the Clean Air Plan in November 2021 as detailed in the report;


  1. Delegates authority to the Executive Director, Place to enter into the contract for the successfully tendered infrastructure work required for the charging zone including supply, installation and maintenance of Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras;


  1. Delegates authority to the Executive Director Place in consultation with the Leader of the Council and the Executive Member for Climate Change, Environment and Transport to submit to Government a Full Business Case to deliver a Category C Charging Zone as outlined in the report; and


5.    Where no existing authority exists under the LSOD, delegate authority to the Executive Director, Place, in consultation with the Executive Member for Climate Change, Environment and Transport, and with the Director of Financial and Commercial Services to approve such procurements and thereafter contract awards for any necessary infrastructure, goods and services required together with any other such steps to implement and meet the aims and objectives of the Clean Air Plan.




Reasons for Decision




The recommended proposal is predicted to reach legal compliance within the shortest time to achieve the outcome of protecting public health by minimise exposure to harmful NO2 pollution.




Other recommendations within this report are included to ensure that in the CAP actions can be progressed as quickly as possible to achieve the outcome above.




Alternatives Considered and Rejected




In assessing options, the primary success factor required by Government is ensuring ‘compliant levels of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) emissions within the shortest time’. The Full Business Case (FBC) appraisal process will follow HM Treasury guidance and be consistent with the approach taken at OBC.


Post Covid 19, remodelling work was undertaken to establish whether any alternative CAZ approaches would be sufficient to meet the legal obligations. A CAZ C continues to be the model most suited to achieving compliance within the shortest time and this remains the requirement mandated by Government. No other form of CAZ is permissible without Ministerial consent.


A set of technical documents detailing the analytical modelling work will be submitted to Government, forming part of the Full Business Case. These documents are currently being drafted and will be submitted to the JAQU for review by their technical assurance panel prior to FBC submission.   Further detail will be published on the SCC Clean Air website after JAQU technical review process is completed.




Any Interest Declared or Dispensation Granted








Reason for Exemption if Public/Press Excluded During Consideration








Respective Director Responsible for Implementation




Executive Director, Place




Relevant Scrutiny and Policy Development Committee If Decision Called In




Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee




NOTE: The above item is not subject to call-in as the recommendations are removed from the call-in process to progress the Clean Air Plan to implementation to achieve legal compliance within the shortest possible time, predicted to be 2022. This is dependent on committing resources and expenditure to commence the implementation programme in November 2021. 



Report author: Tom Finnegan-Smith

Publication date: 02/11/2021

Date of decision: 26/10/2021

Decided at meeting: 26/10/2021 - Co-operative Executive

Accompanying Documents: