To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether the Government plans to take steps in response to local authorities reportedly delaying the introduction of clean air zones as a result of the effect of the covid-19 outbreak on traffic levels.
Following the initial impact of the pandemic Government agreed last summer to requests to delay work on the introduction of Clean Air Zones in a number of areas, recognising the significant uncertainties and economic hardship arising from Covid19.
While levels of Nitrogen Dioxide emissions (NO2) fell across the UK during lockdown, levels are rising again in many places as traffic levels increase. That is why various interventions such as Clean Air Zones are needed to tackle pollution levels and to improve public health. We have therefore made clear that we expect local authorities to progress their work to implement measures to tackle NO2 exceedences in the shortest possible time, including introduction of Clean Air Zones where these are needed.
We continue to engage with local authorities and keep plans for all Clean Air Zones under regular review to ensure we deliver compliance in the shortest time possible.
We are pleased that Bath and North East Somerset introduced their Clean Air Zone on 15 March 2021 with Birmingham following on 1 June. Portsmouth City Council is expected to launch its CAZ over the winter, and further zones expected to be introduced next year.
Local authorities have been supported by the Government with a comprehensive package of technical and financial support to deliver compliance with roadside NO2 concentration limits.