Thursday, December 17, 2015

Heavy polluting vehicles face charges to enter major city centers in Britain

Polluting vehicles will have to pay to enter special zones in the city centers of five major British cities under an air quality drive announced Thursday by the government.

It will be the first time a charging system is introduced in provincial cities to deter most polluting diesel-engined, such as old buses, taxis, coaches and lorries.

The new Clean Air Zones will be introduced by 2020 in Birmingham, Leeds, Nottingham, Derby and Southampton, the Department for Environment announced. Private cars will not be included in the new restrictions.

A department spokesman said the plans set out a comprehensive approach by introducing targeted local measures to tackle the most polluting vehicles in a number of air quality hotspots, alongside national action.

The Clean Air Zones will be targeted at areas of each city where the air quality problem is most serious.

The Zones aim to reduce pollution in city centers and encourage the replacement of old, polluting vehicles with modern, cleaner vehicles.

Similar zones in Germany and Denmark have been shown to lead to an improvement in air quality, said the government spokesman.

The 2020 deadline has been set to give businesses time to prepare for the change in order to minimise the impact.

No announcements have yet been made on proposed charges, but city councils will only be able to set charges at levels designed to reduce pollution. They will not be allowed to apply a scale of charges to raise extra money beyond recovering the costs of the scheme.

Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss said: "Our Clean Air Zones are targeted on the largest vehicles, whilst not affecting car owners and minimising the impact on business."

"We want to ensure people can continue to drive into city centers and by targeting action at the most polluting coaches, taxis, buses and lorries we will encourage the use of cleaner vehicles," said Truss.

Many companies in Britain have already started to update their fleets of vehicles to modern, cleaner vehicles.

Over the past five years the British government has committed over 3 billion US dollars to help bus operators upgrade their fleets, reduce pollution from a range of vehicles such as refuse trucks and fire engines through cutting edge technologies, and promote the development of clean alternative fuels such as powering taxies with Liquid Petroleum Gas.

In London, Mayor Boris Johnson has a well-developed strategy for improving air quality in the capital by 2025, including the implementation of an ultra-low emission zone by 2020, retro-fitting of buses and licensing new taxis to be zero emission capable from 2018.

  Xinhua -

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