BRADFORD'S Clean Air Zone will be introduced in January after the Council's Executive voted to approve the huge scheme to tackle the District's illegal pollution levels.

It will mean that from next year the most polluting HGVs, buses, vans and taxis will be charge up to £50 to enter the zone - which takes in much of the area within the city's inner ring road and the Shipley/Bradford corridor.

A fund of over £30 million will be set up to provide grants for the owners of such vehicles to either convert to electric or switch to less polluting engines.

Last year Leeds Council scrapped a similar plan to introduce clean air charging after the Covid lockdown led to air pollution levels naturally declining.

But at the Executive meeting this morning members were told that traffic in Bradford had was already at similar levels to pre-lockdown.

Recent data had shown that pollution levels on Mayo Avenue were above the legal limit, despite the national "stay at home" order being in place for over two months.

In 2018 the Government issued a Ministerial Order to Bradford Council to reduce the District's illegal levels of pollution as soon as possible.

This led to the development of the Clean Air Zone, which will use ANPR cameras to monitor commercial vehicles entering the city that don't meet certain engine standards - which will vary for different vehicles types.

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

Private cars are not included in the charging.

At the meeting Andrew Whittles, who helped draw up the plan, said other cities were planning to draw up clean air zones, with Bath, Birmingham, Newcastle, Manchester and Liverpool all likely to introduce such measures in the coming years.

He added: "It is a scheme that will likely soon apply to most major cities in the UK.

He told members that over £39 million had been granted to Bradford by the Department for Transport and Defra to help implement the zone, and £31m of this was to provide grants to help upgrade vehicles.

The level of grants - up to £16,000 per vehicle for HGVs and coaches, set a "national precedent" - members were told.

Local research project Born In Bradford had been granted £1.1 million to study how the measures impact the health of children in the District.

This included working with 12 primary schools - including asking children to wear sensors on the walk to school to measure pollution levels.

Rosie McEachan from Born in Bradford said pollution had a huge impact on the health of Bradford residents, and was a direct cause of asthma and other breathing difficulties.

Councillor Debbie Davies (Cons, Baildon) said she had done her own research into emissions in Bradford, and said: "The majority of coaches and buses and about 80 per cent of HGVs are already compliant. It is taxis and vans that are the vehicles most likely to be effected.

"Will this put businesses of investing in Bradford now that Leeds has scrapped its Clean Air Zone?"

Mr Whittles said the Council would offer exemptions to businesses that could prove they could not afford to pay to upgrade their vehicle fleet.

He also said the funding that came with the Clean Air Zone would allow many local businesses up upgrade their fleet, adding: "There are companies that couldn't afford to invest in new vehicles that will be able to now because of this funding."

Cllr Davies also asked if the Zone could lead to companies diverting their vehicles to minor roads to avoid paying the charge.

Mr Whittles said that if there was any evidence of traffic displacement or rat running, the Council would look into traffic management schemes to deal with this.

The proposed daily charges for entering a Clean Air Zone are: 

Buses & Coaches = £50

HGV = £50

LGV, including minibus = £9

Taxi (Hackney or Private Hire) = £12.50

Under the grants scheme HGV and bus operators could claim up to £16,000 to upgrade their vehicle, while van and minibus operators could claim £4,500 for upgrades.

Private hire vehicles could get grants of up to £3,200 and Hackney Carriages up to £4,000.

After the meeting James Craig of campaign group Clean Air Bradford said: “We are really pleased to see that Bradford Council is introducing the Clean Air Zone and are putting the health of the people of Bradford first.

“However, we are concerned that the Council is also planning road widening and road building in the district which will result in yet more traffic going through our communities, bring more air pollution with it.  

"Some of these proposals will occur after the Clean Air Zone has concluded.  Bradford Council must ensure all the hard work and goodwill that has gone into the Clean Air Zone plan is not undone by new road building which makes air pollution worse."