THE COUNCIL is drawing up a ‘final plan’ in a last-ditch attempt to prevent a congestion charge in Coventry.
It will be submitted to government and spell out the city’s final proposals for cutting pollution and emissions.
As we have reported, the government has already issued a ‘directive’ that Coventry must introduce a ‘clean air zone’ charge – better known as a congestion charge.
The government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs gave Coventry City Council until June 14 to present a viable plan to improve air quality.
The clean-air-zone would see polluting vehicles charged for using some main streets, including in and around the city centre.
DEFRA is threatening to force on Coventry the most severe ‘class D’ zone.
A class D ‘Birmingham-style’ charging system would mean older and more polluting cars, buses, coaches, taxis and vans would have to pay.
It is not yet clear precisely where the CAZ will be and how it will be applied.
In issuing the directive, DEFRA had rejected Coventry council’s previous wide-ranging and controversial £80million Air Quality Action Plan to cut emissions. To the fury of petitioning residents, it had included a main road closure at Coundon Road and traffic restrictions on streets including Holyhead Road.
Last year, Coventry was named as one of 22 towns and cities within the UK where Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) levels are forecast to exceed legal limits.
Cabinet member for jobs and regeneration Councillor Jim O’Boyle has now confirmed to us that the council does intend to lodge a final submission with DEFRA for June 14.
He said: “Until I have seen the final plan that we will present on June 14 I can’t give you a definitive answer on whether it will be exactly the same. But there will be some further clarifications.
“We are in conversation with them and we will present further clarification of our proposals in line with their agreement.
“Conversations have been had and we are optimistic the government is more open to some of our suggestions.”
He added the council had no intention of implementing an ‘economically disastrous’ clean-air-zone – which would bring the city to a ‘standstill’.
The council has slammed the charging zones as a form of regressive taxation, seeing the poorest with the oldest vehicles unfairly penalised.
But the government is intent on halving the harm to human health caused by air pollution in the UK by 2030.
Coventry environmental campaigner Peter Maddock said: “Of course the council have to have a view on the economic and business affects, particularly as they drive to be a top ten city.
“They however need some balance as the poor air quality will have significant implications for peoples health.
“Why is there not even a mention of health impact from the council as the statutory public health body, just a list of economic problems.”
Nitrogen Dioxide levels at the ring road, Holyhead Road, Walsgrave Road, Binley Road and London Road are all set to exceed the EU’s safe limit value of 40 micrograms per cubic metre by 2021 – by quite some distance.