A financial assistance scheme for operators affected by the upcoming Newcastle and Gateshead clean air zone (CAZ) is now open for applications.

HGVs, as well as buses and taxis, that do not meet Euro-6 emission standards will be charged £50 a day from the end of January if they enter the CAZ, which covers most of Newcastle city centre, including routes over the Tyne, Swing, Redheugh and High Level bridges.

Affected vans and light goods vehicles will face daily £12.50 fines from July 2023.

The city council said it was setting up the CAZ in partnership with Gateshead council in response to a government legal order requiring it to reduce harmful nitrogen dioxide emissions.

It said it had looked at alternative ways of reducing the levels, “but none were found to be effective as quickly as a CAZ,” it said.

Shire Leasing has now been appointed to deliver the financial support to eligible businesses, in the form of grants, interest-subsidised finance or a combination of the two.

Shire was involved in the Bath and North East Somerset CAZ financial scheme framework and also administered CAZ financial support for the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and most recently, Bristol City Council.

Operators wanting to access the scheme must first pass an initial eligibility assessment with Newcastle City Council.

Once a basic eligibility letter is issued, businesses can use this to apply for financial support directly with one of the appointed funders.

Shire Leasing said that as funds were available on a first-come-first-serve basis, interested businesses were urged to complete basic eligibility and submit a finance application as soon as possible.