Ban on diesel ve­hi­cles across city ‘would have dev­as­tat­ing im­pact’

Yorkshire Post - - NEWS -

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.’

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