Proposals for either a charging clean air zone (CAZ) or tolls on Tyneside's city centre bridges are going back to the drawing board after a public consultation revealed strong opposition to both plans.

The plans, drawn up by Newcastle, Gateshead and North Tyneside councils, proposed either a charging CAZ or a low emission zone (LEZ) which would include tolls on Tyneside’s city centre bridges – the council’s preferred option.

Under the proposed CAZ, non-Euro 6 trucks would be charged £50 a day to enter the zone, whilst non-compliant cars and vans would be charged £12.50.

The alternative LEZ proposal would see tolls imposed on the Tyne, Redheugh, and Swing bridges with all lorries, vans and cars charged, regardless of their emissions. Lorries would be charged £3.40 per journey and vans and cars £1.70 per journey. Buses and taxis would be exempt from charges.

The results of the consultation, published last week, reveal that over 20,000 residents and businesses responded to the consultation, of which 52% rejected plans for a charging CAZ, and 48% opposed the councils’ plans for a LEZ with road tolls.

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This compares to 34% of respondents voicing support for a CAZ and 38% supporting a LEZ with road tolls.

HGV operators were the most vocal in their opposition to the plans with 70% against plans for a charging CAZ, 72% voicing opposition to a LEZ and 78% against proposals for road tolls.

Of those HGV operators who responded to the consultation just 4% said they would upgrade their vehicles, with 31% saying they would change their route and 38% saying they would no longer make the journey into the CAZ. Just 19% said their vehicles were compliant.

An independent analysis of the consultation responses noted that: “There was widespread criticism of the air quality proposals as a whole. This was often couched in the strongest of language and sentiment, and mirrored in accompanying comments largely very critical in their nature.”

It added that of those that disagreed with the CAZ , the LEZ and the proposed bridge tolls the majority in each case expressed “strong disagreement.”

Councillor Arlene Ainsley, cabinet member for transport and air quality at Newcastle City Council, said that "what comes across very strongly is that there were some very real concerns about the proposals we consulted on and people feel that further support and infrastructure improvements are needed to help people cope with such measures."

The three councils said they will use the feedback from the consultation, as well as more recent modelling, “to identify the way forward for Tyneside’s clean air plans”.

The councils will submit their updated options by August and present their final proposals to government by 12 November this year.