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In advance of the Budget, Bright Blue, the independent think tank for liberal conservatism, has today published a new report, Reducing air pollution in the West Midlands, which calls on the Government to enable local and combined authorities to strive for ‘reasonable profits’ from their Clean Air Zones to help fund local diesel scrappage schemes and charging points for Electric Vehicles (EVs).

The new report examines the scale and consequences of air pollution in the West Midlands, and proposes new policies for it. One of the main policy proposals, however, could be applied to all local and combined governments across the country.

  • Enable local and combined authorities to strive for ‘reasonable profits’ from their Clean Air Zones to fund local diesel scrappage schemes and charging points for Electric Vehicles (EVs). In 2015, the UK Government announced that a Clean Air Zone (CAZ) will be introduced in Birmingham, Derby, Nottingham, Southampton and Leeds to improve air quality in the 2020s, specifically through reducing levels of the air pollutant NO These Clean Air Zones would be in addition to the one in London. Under the Transport Act 2000, and the amendments made to it under Part VI of the Local Transport Act 2008, local authorities are prohibited from setting charges in Clean Air Zones so as to be a means of raising revenues. If any profits are raised from Clean Air Zones, they must be reinvested “to facilitate the achievement of local transport policies”.

We recommend that the Government should amend the Transport Act 2000 to enable local authorities and metropolitan combined authorities to strive for ‘reasonable profits’ from their Clean Air Zones, as long as they are directed towards the establishment of a local diesel scrappage scheme or charging points for electric vehicles. Only if these objectives cannot be pursued should local and combined authorities be allowed to fund local transport objectives, as currently defined, from their reasonable profits.

Commenting Eamonn Ives, Researcher at Bright Blue and co-author of the report, says:

    “Air pollution is a major danger to the health of individuals. Concern for air pollution is widespread amongst the public, and many believe that not enough is being done to resolve it”
    “In this year’s Budget, the Chancellor should be bold and announce that the UK Government will change legislation to enable local and combined governments to strive for reasonable profits from the administration of their Clean Air Zones. This could yield revenue for local and combined governments to take further measures to make transport cleaner, such as the introduction of local diesel scrappage schemes and more charging points for electric vehicles.”