Ban on diesel vehicles across city ‘would have devastating impact’
A BLANKET ban on all diesel vehicles in Yorkshire’s largest city would have a devastating impact leading to a rise in unemployment and social deprivation, a former Government transport adviser has warned.
Leeds Council is one of 29 local authorities identified in the Government’s air quality plans in July as having roads breaching legal pollution levels.
It now has until March next year to publish draft plans to address the problem – and observers say diesel vehicles are expected to be targeted with new restrictions or fines. Oxford and Cambridge are among the local authorities that have already announced their intention to ban all diesel vehicles, including buses.
David Begg, visiting professor at Plymouth University and former chairman of the Government’s Commission for Integrated Transport, is calling on Leeds Council to stop short of a blanket ban and instead target older diesel cars, which are the biggest contributors to air pollution. A ban, he claimed, could prompt an 80 per cent cut in bus services, leading to a 22 per cent cut in employment, an 11 per cent reduction in adult skills and a 29 per cent overall increase in social deprivation.
Prof Begg’s warning comes as a bus-sector coalition led by campaign group Greener Journeys urges local decision-makers to look at clean British diesel buses, technically known as Euro VI buses, as a viable alternative to improve local air quality.
Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, Leeds Council’s executive board member for sustainability and the environment, said the authority was “currently undertaking detailed modelling and research into what a potential clean air zone could look like in Leeds”.
“Improving our air quality is important for the health of everyone who lives in the city and we will be working closely with bus operators as we move forward with any plans,” she said.
‘Improving our air quality is important for the health of everyone in the city.’