THERE has been a mixed response to plans to introduce a Clean Air Zone in Bradford and Shipley, with a third of taxi drivers claiming they would leave the trade if it is introduced.

A survey into the plans shows that although the majority of the public support the scheme, businesses, including taxi drivers, are less positive.

Plans for the Clean Air Zone were revealed earlier this year by Bradford Council, and would see the most polluting vehicles charged to enter the zone, which includes the city centre and the Canal Road Corridor.

The Council has said the zone is in response to a Ministerial Direction, issued in 2018, to reduce the District's dangerously high pollution levels.

Branded Breath Better Bradford, it would require HGVs, buses and coaches to be Euro 6 compliant. Any vehicles that do not reach this level will be charged £50 a day to enter the clean air zone.

Minibuses and light goods vehicles will either have to be Euro 6 (Diesel) or Euro 4 (Petrol) compliant, or they face a daily charge of £9.

Clean air zone plan hailed as 'momentous' step in improving Bradford's health

Hackney carriages need to be Euro 6 (Diesel) compliant or face a £12.50 daily charge, while private hire vehicles need to be Euro 5 / 6 Petrol Hybrid Standard or face a £12.50 charge.

Private vehicles such as cars will be exempt.

The policy, which is still being developed by the Council, would depend on a £60 million government loan, which would be used to offer businesses with polluting vehicles grants to upgrade their vehicles or buy new, greener ones.

When the proposal was discussed at a meeting of the Council's Executive earlier this year John Wright, a clinician and Chief Investigator for Born In Bradford, said "this is a decision as momentous as requiring seat belts in cars and banning smoking in public places."

A survey asking the public and businesses what they thought of the Clean Air Zone took place earlier this year, and the results have now been published.

Overall 1,637 people responded to the survey, including 744 taxi drivers and 88 businesses.

The results of the survey find that, among the general public, 66 per cent of people were in favour of the implementation of a Clean Air Zone.

People in the Shipley area were among the most supportive, with Queensbury, Thornton and Bingley Rural being the areas where more people were less supportive.

Two thirds of the public that responded said they were concerned about air quality levels in Bradford.

However, the businesses that will be most impacted by the scheme had a less positive response.

There was scepticism about the scheme among the taxi drivers who responded to the survey.

When asked what the most likely response to the zone being introduced would be, 38 per cent said it would be to retire or leave the taxi trade.

Just 30 per cent said they would look to replace their vehicle with a compliant one.

However, 60 per cent said they would be likely or very likely to apply for a grant to bring their vehicle up to clean air standards.

When asked if they supported the introduction of a Clean Air Zone, 50 per cent said they did not. 32 per cent said they did support the plans, and 18 per cent said they didn't know.

Just under half of the taxi drivers surveyed think the Zone will impact Bradford's air quality.

The biggest concerns for taxi drivers are the cost of vehicle purchase, financing arrangements and availability of electric charging points.

Of the 48 responses from businesses which have their own vehicle fleet, 73 per cent said it would have a negative impact on their business.

However, 59 per cent agreed it would have a positive impact on the health of Bradford residents.

Overall 43 per cent supported the plans, 37 per cent opposed them and 20 per cent were unsure.

15 per cent said they would consider ceasing trading if the Zone was introduced.

There were 33 responses from businesses without fleets - a category that includes sole traders.

Just 30 per cent supported the Clean Air Zone, with 45 per cent saying they definitely did not support the scheme.

42 per cent did not think the plan would improve air quality in Bradford, and 82 per cent felt it would harm their business.

Half believe it would have a negative impact on Bradford's reputation.

Campaign group Clean Air Bradford was set up in response to poor air quality in the District.

In response to the survey, Dave Robison from Clean Air Bradford, said: "In broad terms Clean Air Bradford are very pleased that the Council are pushing ahead with the Clean Air Zone. 

"We support their efforts in this regard and its commendable they've not delayed action due to Coronavirus lockdown. 

"However we remain deeply troubled by the lack of more basic remedial actions in relation to Clean Air that have not been taken around idling, around School Streets, and following from planning decisions which allow the building of drive-thru's, car-dependent housing and so on. 

"Most importantly, we continue to oppose the major road widening schemes which are being planned at huge tax-payer expense and will in the long run lead to vastly increased traffic volumes. 

"Until there is a strategy and a plan to reduce traffic volumes rather than simply facilitate its growth, we will continue to be trying to fix obesity by buying bigger trousers."

Leeds Council had planned to introduce a Clean Air Zone this Summer, but that plan has been delayed until next year due to the Coronavirus pandemic.