Leeds City Council has become the latest local authority to ask government to delay the start date of its clean air zone (CAZ) as it deals with the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Originally due to be rolled out from 28 September, the council has now urged government to allow this to be postponed “until further notice” in a statement it issued to the self-employed community on 27 March.

Leeds’ delay follows closely on from Birmingham City Council, which last week also wrote to the government asking for its own CAZ to be delayed until “at least the end of the calendar year” as it too grapples with the outbreak of coronavirus in its region. It was originally due for launch this summer.

Councillor Waseem Zaffar MBE, cabinet member for transport and environment said: “The current situation has meant we need to make changes to our original plans. COVID-19 is having a profound impact on the economy of the city and our preparations for the Clean Air Zone.”

He added that Birmingham’s CAZ does still remain the most effective way of improving the city’s air quality long term and that work will continue to put in place the necessary infrastructure.

Applications remain open for Birmingham’s temporary CAZ exemption permits. These will be available to residents, low income workers and businesses in the CAZ for a period of one to two years after launch subject to certain criteria being met.

Oxford City Council also announced plans last week to temporarily halt the timeline for its zero-emission zone, initially planned to rollout by the end of this year.

"We are all living through an unprecedented crisis," said councillor Tom Hayes, cabinet member for Zero Carbon Oxford, Oxford City Council. "We have to get our priorities right at this time, and that means focusing on the immediate concerns of businesses who are key to the success of the Zero Emission Zone and Connecting Oxford.

"We can’t expect businesses who are facing coronavirus challenges right now and potentially for months ahead to prioritise helping to shape the policy or focusing on the logistical planning required for these schemes.”