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Sheffield’s Clean Air Zone Plan


The decision by Sheffield City Council to control air pollution caused by traffic in the centre is a welcome first step towards cleaner air for everyone.

On 26 October, Councillors on Sheffield City Council’s Co-Operative Executive gave the go-ahead for the launch of a Clean Air Zone (CAZ) from late 2022.

Cleaner air will be welcome for all the citizens, however adapting to this measure may be painful and difficult for some because of the economic cost of moving to low or zero emission vehicles.

The council reports that air pollution, caused primarily by diesel vehicles but also other modes of transport, contributes to 500 deaths a year within the city and over the last decade Sheffield has been in breach of the legal limits for Nitrogen Dioxide.

So, what does this mean for businesses and citizens?

In a Category C Clean Air Zone, charges apply to vehicles that do not meet set standards. Put simply, buses, taxis, vans and lorries that do not meet the emissions standards will have to pay to drive in and around the zone.

However, vehicles classified as ‘Ultra Low Emissions Vehicles’ will be exempt from these charges. There is also an exception for private cars. The council have announced that there are no plans to charge private cars entering into the city centre. These vehicles make up 80% of the road traffic and account for 50% of the total pollution.

In broad terms, we have found that the price to set up a solar farm in Texas capable of generating enough power to offset 2,500 tonnes of CO2e would cost somewhere between $12M to $15M and generate around 12.5 GWh. 

The intention of introducing charges for buses, taxis, vans and lorries is to encourage commercial users that regularly drive within the zone to upgrade to a cleaner vehicle. Of course this comes at a significant cost and charging points for electric vehicles, for example, can be hard to find.

That said, the recent fuel shortages experienced in the UK may push local Government to upgrade the electric charging infrastructure. In addition, while the cost of an electric vehicles, one of the best zero carbon choices, remains high, the Government has awarded Sheffield City Council £20 million to assist in the upgrading of vehicles. Since the CAZ charges will not be introduced until late 2022, that gives us one year to act.

At AESSEAL we have already begun the transition to zero emission vehicles with the delivery of two electric cars and one electric van earlier this year. The third electric car has been ordered and should be delivered in April 2022. We have also installed a number of electric charging points and are in the process of a more general fleet electrification. I’ve also ordered my own personal electric vehicle.

We feel this is in line with the company’s pledge to invest £29 million by 2029 in environmentally friendly actions, including fleet electrification, installing solar panels, battery storage arrays and other energy saving measures both in Yorkshire and our global operations.

Cleaner vehicles are better for the climate and for our lungs and we all want a pleasant and healthy environment in which to live and work. This plan from Sheffield City Council shows that the message that we need to take action is getting out, not just in the business world, but across society.

Follow the journey and keep up to speed with the updates in our Betterworld.Solutions magazine and the #29millionby29 campaign on Chris Rea’s LinkedIn.


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