The logistics sector is extremely disappointed by the radical changes made by Newcastle City Council (NCC) to its planned Clean Air Zone (CAZ), according to FTA, the business organisation which speaks for the sector. In FTA’s view, the new proposal to close one lane of the Tyne Bridge in each direction will not deliver the desired improvements in air quality and will simply increase road congestion.
Mags Simpson, Head of Northern England Policy at FTA, comments: “In the opinion of our members, NCC needs to reconsider its proposal to close one lane of the Tyne Bridge in each direction; this approach will significantly increase road congestion and air pollution in the local vicinity, and have an impact on journey times and costs. Following months of productive meetings with NCC – where plans were amended to represent a smaller area of the city and provide more support for van operators in particular – FTA and its members are bewildered by this sudden change of plan.”
Ms Simpson continues: “FTA’s members were truly shocked by the recent adjustments, especially given the record number of responses to the Council’s previous consultations: more than 20,000. And this recent announcement has left some of our members questioning the Council’s motives; they are concerned that the focus has shifted to revenue generation as opposed to the original goal – cleaning the air of Newcastle.”
On 14 January 2020, FTA met with members from across the North of England; top of the agenda was the recent changes announced by NCC. Ms Simpson explains the effect the CAZ will have on the logistics industry: “The Newcastle CAZ involves daily charges for vehicles entering the city centre; but not private cars. Cities need goods to operate effectively and these charges are a significant financial burden to any operator trying to work in and around Newcastle; it is unfair to expect businesses to bear the cost of cleaning Newcastle’s air alone.”