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Agenda item

Tackling Air Pollution - Sheffield's Clean Air Zone Proposals

Report of the Executive Director, Place



The Committee received a report of the Executive Director, Place, providing an update on the development of Sheffield’s proposals to introduce a Class Charging Clean Air Zone in the City, as part of its approach to tackle harmful nitrogen dioxide (NO2) from road traffic in the City.  The report provided an update since the Committee discussed the issue at its meeting held on 28th November 2018, as well as offering the Committee the opportunity to contribute to the statutory consultation on the proposals.




In attendance for this item were Tom Finnegan-Smith (Head of Strategic Transport and Infrastructure) and Laurie Brennan (Head of Policy and Partnerships).




Tom Finnegan-Smith reported on the statutory consultation process on the City’s Clean Air Zone, which had commenced on 1st July 2019, and would end on 25th August 2019. The main basis of the consultation comprised three online surveys, that were tailored to key stakeholders – people that lived and worked in Sheffield, businesses and organisations and taxi drivers, and this was supported by a dedicated website, which provided a short summary of the Clean Air Zone proposals, access to the surveys, the Council’s Outline Business Case (OBC) and a set of frequently asked questions (FAQs), which would be updated as the consultation progressed. In addition to the online surveys, a series of engagement events had also been planned over the coming weeks, particularly targeted at those groups that were most directly affected by the proposals – businesses and taxi drivers.  Mr Finnegan-Smith concluded by referring to the range of supporting measures which, it was hoped, would be provided from the money received from the Government, towards upgrading vehicle fleets. 




Laurie Brennan added that, as well as a number of FAQs on the website, there was also a link to the Council’s OBC.  He reported that approximately 3,500 responses had already been received, and that work would continue to encourage more people to submit their views. 




Members of the Committee raised questions, and the following responses were provided:-




·             Information provided by the Council’s Licensing Service indicated that the average age of the City’s Hackney Carriages, during the Calendar Year 2017/18, was 12 years.  Whilst there was no data available in terms of what proportion of overall vehicle trips in the City Centre were made by Hackney Carriage drivers, there was evidence to show that trips made by such drivers represented a large proportion of NO2 emissions, particularly in the City Centre.




·             A separate questionnaire had been designed for taxi drivers, which contained a number of questions relating to the age of their vehicles and their travel patterns.




·             Whilst being aware that part of the consultation period was during school holidays, and that the Council could be open to potential criticism regarding this, it was believed that an eight-week consultation period was sufficient time for people to have an opportunity to put forward their views on the proposals.  In addition to the eight-week period, there were also plans to hold drop-in sessions and events with businesses and taxi drivers in various venues across the City. Every effort would be made to encourage these groups to attend the sessions, and officers would be in attendance to provide assistance, and to help those people who did not have the facility, to complete the on-line survey.




·             There were plans to specifically target funding received from the Government to assist taxi drivers in upgrading their vehicles.  The provisional aim was to assist Hackney Carriage drivers to upgrade to either electric or Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG), and for private hire drivers to upgrade to either electric or hybrid vehicles.  Such support measures would comprise interest free loans, grants or other means of financial support.  The plan was to listen to the drivers’ views, then submit the final business case to the Government containing proposals regarding support measures. 




·             In terms of engagement with schools, a considerable amount of work had already been undertaken by the schools, in conjunction with the Council, in connection with raising awareness of the benefits of clean air, including a campaign to get parents to stop their car engines idling when dropping off at, and picking their children up from, school. Schools, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals and Clinical Commissioning Groups, as major employers, were considered key stakeholders, and the Council would continue to work with, and encourage them, both in terms of reviewing their vehicle fleets and getting their employees to look at how to travel to and from work. 




·             The Council had looked at the issue of potential displacement prior to the submission of the OBC to Defra in 2018, which had highlighted the fact that Category C vehicles had the lowest levels of displacement.  Whilst there was no detailed data with regard to displacement available at the meeting, this information could be provided to Members on request. 




·             The Chamber of Commerce had been very helpful in promoting the survey with local businesses, and targeted interviews with them had taken place.




·             It was hoped that the responses received as part of the consultation would assist the Council in formulating proposals with regard to those drivers having one vehicle, which they used for both work and pleasure. 




·             The results of the consultation would hopefully enable the Council to finalise the various aspects of the support packages with regard to upgrading vehicle fleets. It was hoped that the results of the questionnaire would assist the Council in terms of determining which groups and individuals the support measures could be targeted at.




·             The responses to the consultation would be used to inform the Council’s final business case, which would hopefully provide sufficient time for people to adapt prior to the proposals being implemented.




·             The Government would consider the Council’s final business case, then the Council would have to establish an appropriate scheme, which would include all the relevant infrastructure required and support packages.  There would be a need to ensure that all elements of the scheme were appropriate, therefore it would take time to resolve this.




·             Only Category C vehicles would be affected by the proposals. 




·             Whilst views would be sought on the issue of exemptions, at the present time, there were no planned local exemptions to the proposed charges, but the Council would seek people’s views on this, as part of the consultation. Possible exemptions could include vehicles of a bespoke nature, or there could be some national exemptions.  There were no planned exemptions for those private residents who had a van, and who lived within the proposed Zone, neither were there any planned exemptions for Council vehicles.




·             With regard to the Amey depot, Amey were considered as one of the Council’s key partners, and the Council was working closely with them to encourage them to make improvements to their vehicle fleet.  The Council was also in discussion with First Mainline, in connection with encouraging them to improve and/or upgrade their fleet.  First Mainline had recently received funding from the Clean Bus Technology Fund towards retro-fitting or replacing their vehicles to a Euro 6 standard. 




·             There were a number of options to consider with regard to upgrading both Hackney Carriage and private hire taxis, including the retro-fitting on vehicles to LPG or offering interest-free loans towards the purchase of replacement electric vehicles.  As part of the consultation with taxi drivers, they were being asked to provide comprehensive information in terms of their vehicles and driving routes/patterns.




·             It was estimated that approximately £300,000 a year would be raised through the charges, which would be used to fund the various elements required in terms of enforcement.  Any surplus funds would be ring-fenced, and used towards implementing further measures to reduce air pollution in the City.




·             It was accepted that there will be a number of wide-ranging views in terms of the size of the proposed Clean Air Zone, as well as which roads should or shouldn’t be included as part of the proposed Zone. The Inner Relief Road has always been included as part of the proposed Zone.




·             It had been decided to charge buses as it was considered that the operators’ fleets required updating or replacing.




·             A number of targeted sessions had been held with some of the Council’s key partners, such as the Chamber of Commerce, informing of the detail in the OBC, and seeking feedback on this. The Chamber of Commerce had consequently published information on its website. Targeted sessions had also been held with the City’s Disability Hub.




·             It was envisaged that the final business case to the Government comprised a funding package of approximately £50 million.  The package, which comprised funding already obtained through various grants, would be used for the Clean Air Zone infrastructure, the charging infrastructure and funding from the two Government funds – Implementation Fund (£8m) and Competitive Clean Air Fund (£37). 




·             Under the National Clean Air Framework, there would be exemptions for certain emergency service vehicles, together with the potential exemption for some bus services, such as community services.




·             A Strategic Transport Model, covering Sheffield and Rotherham, had been used to assess the implications of the Clean Air Zone, including the levels of emissions from the various transport fleets and the potential for displacement. 




·             Whilst early indications had shown that taxi drivers were broadly in support of the proposals, it was expected that a large proportion of them would be seeking assistance in terms of the support measures with regard to either upgrading or replacing their vehicles.




·             The Council was reasonably confident that bus operators would take steps to either upgrade or replace their fleets, and a number of discussions had already been held with the main bus operators in the City in this regard.  The preference of the bus operators was the Euro 6 standard, which was significantly cleaner than other Euro standards. It was expected that the majority of the investment made by the bus operators would be used towards retrofitting.




·             The Department for Transport had recently announced that a condition would be attached to all future planning applications  regarding new-build residential developments, requiring electric car charging infrastructure. 




·             It was accepted that the success of the proposals relied heavily on the funding received from the Government, and discussions on this would continue, with the Council refusing to reduce its ask. The funding received from the Government was fundamental to ensure compliance, in terms of the implementation of the proposals, within the quickest possible time, and if a sufficient amount of funding was not received, this would not stop the proposals progressing, but would affect the Council’s timescales.




·             Whilst a considerable amount of modelling had been undertaken in connection with the proposals, and, for whatever reason, the proposals were not successful, the Council may have to look at implementing alternative measures.  It was, however, believed that the proposals would work, and that Government evidence, together with local modelling, has shown that compliance could be achieved within a short timescale.




RESOLVED:  That the Committee:-




(a)      notes the contents of the report now submitted, together with the information now reported and the responses to the questions now raised;




(b)      thanks Tom Finnegan-Smith and Laurie Brennan for attending the meeting and responding to the questions raised;




(c)      endorses the proposals in respect of the implementation of the Sheffield Clean Air Zone, as detailed in the report now submitted; and




(d)      recommends that the comments now raised with regard to extending the consultation period on the proposed implementation of the Clean Air Zone period beyond the summer holidays be forwarded to Councillor Lewis Dagnall (Cabinet Member for Environment, Streetscene and Climate) and relevant officers, for consideration.


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