The government has approved Leeds City Council’s Clean Air Zone (CAZ) plans, which will see pre-Euro-6 trucks charged £50 per day to enter.

Leeds has also confirmed the inclusion to its CAZ plans of a £13.8m funding pot for hauliers, which will take the form of £15,000 HGV grants to help locally affected business upgrade their fleets.

As previously reported by MT and confirmed today by the council, the grants will be flexible in their scope to enable operators to use them in the best way for their own business to upgrade their trucks.

For example, this could be through retrofit, paying off a lease, or buying a new or a second-hand truck.

Grants were originally earmarked purely for retrofit systems, however as approved technology is only emerging now for specific HGV models, namely RCVs to date, the scheme was expanded.

Hauliers will be asked to bid for the grants through a funding competition. Leeds has previously said support would be particularly focused towards businesses that are located within the CAZ and which will be “most financially impacted by the proposals”.

A Leeds spokesman told MT full details of eligibility and how to apply will follow shortly on the council’s website. It is anticipated to be open for applications around March, although an exact date is not yet confirmed.

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Leeds City Council had originally asked the government for £40m in funding to initiate its CAZ scheme, however it has confirmed it will only be receiving £29m. £23m of this total will be used to support local businesses.

The CAZ, which covers more than half of the city, will go live on 6 Jan 2020 and affect older HGVs, coaches, buses, taxis and private hire vehicles. Cars and LCVs are excluded from the rules.

It will be enforced by a network of ANPR cameras, for which Leeds has received £6.3m from the government to install.

Cllr James Lewis, executive member with responsibility for sustainability and the environment said: “Businesses that are likely to be affected need to look at the vehicles they operate and begin their final preparations for the introduction of the zone."

He added: “We recognise that this will be a difficult transition for some businesses to make. We have not received the full amount of funding that we asked the government for, however, we are pleased to confirm today that a number of significant financial support packages will be available to assist owners of affected vehicles.

"We will be working hard to make sure this money is available swiftly.”

RHA chief executive Richard Burnett said: “Charging pre-Euro-6 HGVs £50 per day to enter the clean air zone is simply a punitive tax on the industry sector that Leeds relies on to maintain its economy, and local businesses will inevitably be put at risk.

“The goods still have to be delivered and there’s a strong possibility that there will be a considerable increase in van traffic. However, it takes approximately 20 vans to move the same amount of goods as one HGV so how will that improve air quality? This is yet another example of a local authority using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.”

The Leeds CAZ confirmation comes at the same time Oxford City Council accelerated its plans to require zero-emission deliveries in its inner city zone.