BRADFORD’S controversial Clean Air Zone (CAZ) has generated over £10 million since being introduced in September 2022.

And more than £6m of this came from the 142,697 penalty charges issued to motorists who haven’t paid charges for driving non-compliant vehicles through the zone.

A newly-published report by Bradford Council reveals details of the first year of the CAZ and what the Council needs to do before it can be lifted.

In 2018, the Government ordered Bradford Council to reduce the illegal levels of Nitrogen Dioxide in the district.

The CAZ, covering much of Bradford and parts of Shipley, was developed in response and went live in September 2022.

Owners of non-compliant commercial vehicles, including vans, HGVs and taxis, have to pay a daily charge to enter the zone.

If they do not pay they can be issued with a penalty charge notice.

The new report, which goes before members of Bradford Council’s Regeneration and Environment Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday, shows that of the income from the CAZ since September 2022, Bradford Council took £9,590,600 and the Government took £785,634.

How many Penalty Charge Notices have been challenged?

Details of how many people have challenged penalty charge notices are also included in the report, which says: “A total of 21,037 Representations against PCNs have been received.

“This is a rate of 14.74 per cent of PCNs issued – this level of representations has remained consistent since the beginning of 2023. The percentage of accepted representations (successful appeals) is 3.3 per cent of PCNs issued.”

Bradford Council is required to ring-fence any income for environmental programmes, or schemes to reduce traffic.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: A car exhaustA car exhaust (Image: T&A)

The report reveals that a £1m Clean Air Schools Programme was set up using the income, and has offered schools funding to reduce pollution around their sites.

A third of all Bradford district schools have expressed interest in the programme.

Members will be told that other schemes being rolled out include further grants to help owners upgrade their vehicles, the development of schemes to introduce hydrogen-powered vehicles and drawing up plans for organic waste collections.

The report includes recent data showing that NO2 levels in the CAZ area fell to the lowest level in years over the summer.

However, levels rose slightly in September, but have since begun to fall again in October.

Levels have remained below the legal limit since January.

When could Bradford's Clean Air Zone end?

Committee members will also be given details of when the CAZ may end.

Bradford Council has previously said the Government would lift the order once Bradford’s air quality had returned to legal levels, and that Government officials were convinced they would stay at those legal levels.

Giving more detail on this, the report says: “The Government is just starting to publish the process that a CAZ authority needs to follow in order for the Government to remove the CAZ Direction."

To determine whether this has been achieved, there is a four state road map.

State 1 - on track to achieving success; State 2 - achieved success; State 3 - demonstrated to be maintaining success with measures in place; State 4 - likely to continue maintaining success in the absence of measures implemented in the Clean Air Plan."

“All CAZ Authorities are currently classified as State 1 by the Government," the report says.

Members will also be told how the CAZ has impacted the type of vehicles used in Bradford.

In the run-up to the CAZ being implemented, local businesses were offered funding to upgrade their vehicles, and the report shows that more than £20m has been spent upgrading taxis, vans and HGVs.

It says the latest data shows that 99 per cent of Bradford’s tax fleet is now compliant.

The percentage of non-compliant vans passing through the CAZ fell from 50 per cent to 30 per cent shortly after charging was introduced, and 97 per cent of HGVs are now compliant.

All tendered bus services are CAZ compliant, the report claims.

Did Bradford need to introduce a Clean Air Zone?

One of the biggest political debates in recent years has been whether Bradford Council needed to introduce a charging CAZ, with critics arguing that pollution levels could have been reduced without the need to charge motorists.

Referring to these claims, the report says: “The Council looked at many options, including electric bus routes, traffic management and traffic light phasing and park and park and ride facilities, however, a CAZ was the only option that the Government would accept that achieved compliance in the shortest possible timeframe.”