What is the package of measures that is proposed?

This information relates to Section 2 of the questionnaire.

As part of the package of measures for addressing poor air quality, we are proposing to introduce a charging Clean Air Zone category C (CAZ C) in Newcastle city centre.

This would apply to non-compliant buses, coaches, taxis (Hackney Carriages and private hire vehicles), HGVs and vans from 2021.

At this stage we do not intend to charge private cars but this may need to be reconsidered at a future date after we have assessed the impact of these measures on pollution and following improvements to public transport, walking and cycling routes.

Alongside a charging CAZ C in Newcastle city centre we would also need to implement a number of additional measures to ensure we meet air quality targets.

These measures would include lane restrictions on the Tyne Bridge along with changes to the roads layout at each end of the bridge in Newcastle and Gateshead; the introduction of restrictions on traffic movements at the junction between New Bridge Street and Swan House on Central Motorway; and the development of new delivery hubs outside of the charging zone.

This section provides more information on how this package of measures would work and what area would be included in the charging zone.

What is a charging Clean Air Zone Class C?

Within a charging Clean Air Zone (CAZ), drivers of certain vehicles are charged if their vehicle doesn’t meet minimum emissions standards.

Charges only apply to the most polluting, often older vehicles.

The type of vehicle that would be affected depends on the level of the CAZ.

The level of CAZ that we are considering is a category C. This would apply to all buses, coaches, taxis, HGVs and vans that do not meet emissions standards.

Private cars, motorcycles, mopeds, newer vehicles and those with zero emissions would not be charged.

What is the proposed area of the charging zone?

Following feedback from the first stage of the consultation, we are looking at a smaller area than previously for a charging CAZ.

This would be focused on Newcastle city centre and would not include the Royal Victoria Infirmary or the junction between the A1058 Coast Road and A167 Central Motorway.

Residential areas, such as Gosforth, Sandyford and Jesmond, along with Gateshead town centre and the Coast Road would also not be included in the zone but we have included some residential areas to the west of the city centre to ensure that our signage alerting people to the CAZ is in the right places.

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What vehicles would be affected?

Only buses, coaches, taxis, HGVs and vans that do not meet required emissions standards would be charged.

Cars, motorcycles, mopeds, newer vehicles and those with zero emissions would not be charged.

This table shows a basic guide as to which vehicles are likely to meet required emissions standards based on the date of registration.

You can check whether your vehicle is likely to meet emissions standards by entering your registration number at www.eurostandards.co.uk

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What about private cars?

Private cars, motorcycles, mopeds, newer vehicles and those with zero emissions would not be charged under a CAZ C.

Our modelling shows that we can meet air quality targets by having a CAZ C providing we also put in place other measures, including lane restrictions on the Tyne Bridge for at least two years.

However, it is clear that we need to change the way we travel to address wider environmental concerns, including around climate change.

We may therefore need to reconsider introducing charges for private cars at a future date but this would be subject to further consultation at that time.

Our focus is on delivering a scheme that improves air quality and enables a transition to better public transport, walking and cycling.

Why have the proposals changed?

We have taken into account feedback from the first stage of the consultation and new modelling data, which looks at the predicted impact that measures will have on air quality.

In the earlier consultation many of you raised concerns about the potential impact the original proposals would have on individuals, businesses and the local economy.

Concerns were also raised about the likelihood of traffic re-routing, particularly through residential areas, to avoid charges.

Key findings from the earlier consultation were:

  • 86 per cent said that proposed CAZ charges for cars were too high;

  • 75 per cent of businesses were concerned about the impact the original proposals would have on trade in the city centre; and

  • 82 per cent of people who commented on the original proposed CAZ area said they felt it was too big.

In addition to the consultation feedback we’ve also looked at new modelling data, which takes account of updated predictions on the number and type of vehicles that will be using our roads.

An important factor from these revised predictions is that we can expect to see a lot fewer diesel vehicles in use, which means anticipated pollution levels will be lower than originally predicted.

The feedback and the updated predictions mean that we have been able to consider these revised CAZ proposals, which would have a lower impact on the economy and result in significantly less re-routing.

How much would charges be?

The charges we are proposing from 2021 for vehicles that do not meet emissions standards are as follows:

  • HGVs - £50 per day

  • Buses - £50 per day

  • Coaches - £50 per day

  • Taxis (Hackney Carriages and private hire vehicles) - £12.50 per day

  • Vans - £12.50 per day

  • Cars - £0 per day. Any future charges after 2021 would be determined after further consultation once the initial CAZ and associated measures outlined in this document have been agreed and implemented.

What lane restrictions would be introduced on the Tyne Bridge?

We are asking government for funding for a major maintenance scheme on the Tyne Bridge.

If this funding is agreed and the maintenance goes ahead one of the lanes on the bridge would need to be used to provide working space whilst the bridge is repaired. This would leave a single lane in both directions for general traffic and a northbound lane for public transport (buses and taxis).

If the funding is not agreed we would still need lane restrictions on the bridge to meet air quality targets. This would involve reducing the lanes available on the bridge for general traffic, to one lane in each direction, and having one lane in each direction for public transport.

This would improve journey efficiency for public transport, encouraging more people to use it, as well as encouraging people in cars to use alternatives instead of driving over the Tyne Bridge.

Along with lane restrictions on the bridge itself there would be changes to the roads layout at each end of the bridge and adjusting the timing of traffic signals, to manage traffic and reduce queuing on approaching routes.

We have been clear with government that this represents an opportunity to align different pieces of work to avoid further disruption to people’s journeys.

How would the new restrictions on Central Motorway affect traffic movements between the New Bridge Street and Swan House junctions?

Changes to the road layout between the New Bridge Street and Swan House junctions on the Central Motorway would be put in place to prevent traffic from merging on and off the slip lane.

Consultation 2_New Bridge Street slip road map.png

The way people try to leave or access the central motorway at this location can cause knock on issues during peak times which can cause higher pollution levels.

The change would mean that vehicles turning left at the roundabout from New Bridge Street would only be able to continue on towards the Swan House roundabout and would need to find alternative routes if heading southbound.

Vehicles travelling southbound on the Central Motorway wishing to get to the Swan House roundabout would need to come off at the New Bridge Street junction in order to get across onto the Swan House slip road.

How would new delivery hubs work?

We are proposing to create new delivery hubs outside of the charging zone.

This would enable delivery drivers to travel to the hub to drop off goods, which would then be taken for onward delivery within the zone by a low emissions vehicle or electric cargo bike.

As well as helping some smaller businesses avoid charging, which many respondents to the first stage of consultation said would be harmful to their operations and the wider economy, this would also reduce the number of vehicles heading into the city centre.

By dispersing traffic away from the centre of Newcastle this measure will help to reduce city centre congestion which will help to reduce pollution further.

We are proposing to examine the possibility of creating a delivery hub outside the Clean Air Zone, potentially on Claremont Road, Jesmond Road, or another suitable location to the south of the city.

When will any measures take effect?

Under the terms of the legal order we have been given, we are required to implement measures in 2021 in order to meet air quality targets in the shortest possible time. This would be the timescale for putting in place a charge.

It may be that some supporting measures such as junction changes are implemented in advance of 2021 to enable everyone affected to get used to changes in advance of the charge being put in place.