A “short-sighted” decision – ClientEarth responds to Clean Air Zone plans being paused in Leeds

Media reaction

19 August 2020

Leeds City Council announced today that central government funding for the city’s Clean Air Zone (CAZ) has been suspended until further notice.

The scheme has been put on hold whilst the city conducts a review of the impact on the city’s air pollution resulting from the pandemic.

Leeds’ Clean Air Zone was due to start in January 2020, was pushed back until September due to problems with the government vehicle checking database computer, and then further delayed until January 2021 as a result of the pandemic.

Katie Nield, UK clean air lawyer at ClientEarth, said: “Despite all the money already invested into introducing a Clean Air Zone in Leeds and other cities, the Government now looks to be eyeing a U-turn. Bizarrely, ministers appear to be freezing funding for the scheme due to apparent improvements to air pollution caused by the lockdown.

“This is incredibly short-sighted. We know that any positive impacts on air quality prompted by the extraordinary circumstances surrounding lockdown are likely to be short-lived. Studies have already shown pollution levels bouncing back up in many cities in Europe.

“If the Government is truly committed to a green and clean recovery, it cannot allow short-term dips in harmful pollutants to prompt row backs on action to clean up the air we breathe and protect people’s health in the longer term.”

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