Both Birmingham and Leeds have been forced to “significantly” delay the introduction of controversial ‘Clean Air Zones’ after a government cock-up.
It has transpired that the technical systems required to implement the scheme, including the crucial vehicle checker tools, in the cities has been beset by delays, problems and cost increases.
The Government’s Joint Air Quality Unit (JAQU) had initially promised that the system for the Clean Air Zones would be delivered to Birmingham City Council and Leeds City Council by October 2019, however, the Department for Transport (DfT) and DEFRA have both confirmed that the systems won’t be delivered until December 2019 at the earliest.
With the schemes supposed to be implemented in January 2020, it is now not possible for Birmingham or Leeds to install and test the equipment prior to its roll-out.
Councillor Waseem Zaffar, Cabinet Member for Transport and Environment at Birmingham City Council, said: “The council has been fully on track to implement the Clean Air Zone from January 2020 on the basis of assurances from the Government that the vehicle checker would be in place by October this year.
“However, the delivery of this essential online tool has now been delayed to December 2019, which means we are unable to go ahead with our Clean Air Zone in January as planned, as this would be completely unfair on residents, businesses and visitors to the city who would only have a matter of weeks, if not days, to make key choices about their travel behaviour or upgrade their vehicles. This is simply unacceptable.
“While this does mean people will have longer to make these changes, it will also delay Birmingham in achieving air quality compliance, leaving our city exposed to dirty air for longer than anticipated.
“However, despite these challenges, we will continue to work closely with the Government and other cities to achieve compliance in the shortest possible time because our priority remains ensuring that the people of Birmingham have access to clean air, as is their basic human right.”
It comes without surprise that the fingerprints of the Department for Transport (DfT) are all over this, considering the consistent failures in rail franchising, and the shocking saga over the cross-channel shipping contract, in which the DfT awarded a shipping contract to a company with no ships.
A government department whose failings are being masked by Brexit, strikes again. Yet more questions for Chris Grayling MP that won’t be answered.