Summary of the final proposals

The new proposals include a number of measures that, together, will enable us to quickly improve our air quality and also address the issues people raised during the earlier consultation.

It is important to recognise that, in order to deliver the required improvements to air quality, these proposals must be considered as a single option. It is not the case that certain elements could be taken forward and not others. They only work when delivered together.

The only alternatives that we have identified, that can be proven to meet government’s legal direction, would be based on options we have previously consulted on. Those options involve either the implementation of tolls alongside a low emission zone, or a charging clean air zone that includes private vehicles.

Based on our modelling and appraisal, our proposed package performs as well as these other options in improving health, environmental and greenhouse gas emissions. Both of the alternative options are considered to have a worse economic impact than the package we are proposing.

This consultation focuses on the things that we believe will lessen the impact on the people and businesses most affected by proposed charges, and on the measures that will help us to quickly improve air quality, in particular on the roads that government has directed us to address.

Our proposals include:

  • Grants for individuals / businesses affected by a charge to help them upgrade vehicles.

  • Sunset / grace periods, where some vehicles would not be charged when measures are first introduced, along with some exemptions for certain vehicles that would not be charged at all.

  • A charging Clean Air Zone covering Newcastle city centre affecting non-compliant buses, coaches, taxis (both Hackney Carriages and private hire vehicles), heavy goods vehicles and vans, to be enforced from 2021.

  • Changes to the road layout on the Central Motorway, that will prevent traffic from merging on and off the slip lane between the New Bridge Street and Swan House junctions.

  • Lane restrictions on the Tyne Bridge and its approaches including the Central Motorway. These restrictions will be put in place to support air quality work but we are asking government for £40m funding to ensure essential maintenance works take place at the same time, minimising disruption by aligning these much needed roadworks to update the ageing bridge with the need to implement lane restrictions. We have received funding from government to develop our business case for the maintenance work.

  • Changes to the local road network in Newcastle and Gateshead to reflect the Tyne Bridge restrictions and ensure public transport can run reliably.

  • New delivery hubs for goods vehicles outside of the charging zone, from where last-mile deliveries can be made by electric vehicle or cargo bike.

  • Ambitious funding bids to the Transforming Cities Fund and Clean Air Fund for investment in public transport and walking and cycling routes.

  • A major communications campaign to ensure people are aware of the measures, including the support that will be offered, and to encourage people to change their travel behaviour, switching to public transport, walking or cycling where this is possible for them to do.

The legal order we have been given by government means that we have to identify measures that will bring pollution to within legal limits as quickly as possible.

We believe that this package of measures would achieve this aim while also taking into account the feedback we had from the first stage of consultation earlier this year.

We would like to get your views on these final proposals and/or any other alternative proposals that you believe would enable us to achieve legal limits as quickly as possible before we submit them to government.

Everyone is invited to take part in the consultation but we would particularly like to hear from bus and HGV operators as well as taxi and van drivers who would be directly affected by the charging proposals.

Please read this document before completing our questionnaire.