The council will this week seek permission to trigger a consultation on introducing charges and other measures to reduce nitrogen dioxide in the city, as part of its Clean Air Plan.
Like other cities, Liverpool was compelled by the Government in 2018 to develop a Clean Air Plan that would reduce levels of nitrogen dioxide across the city to below legal minimum levels, in the shortest possible time.
Projects in the works in other cities including Manchester are combining the stick of charging zones with the carrot of incentive schemes to encourage trade-in of older, non-compliant commercial vehicles.
Birmingham is to launch its CAZ this summer, while a concentrated trade-in scheme in Leeds led to such a dramatic improvement in air quality that a designated zone is no longer required.
Early modelling in 2019 suggested a Clean Air Zone might be required for Liverpool, and more recent, detailed modelling conducted since means a CAZ is now highly likely to be required, according to a report going before Liverpool City Council’s cabinet on Friday.
The council’s recommendation is that charging be included in any planning as an essential measure, and that approval be granted to start public and stakeholder conversations, leading to a full consultation later this year.
Work carried out between Liverpool City Council, working with the Government’s Joint Air Quality Unit, a partnership between the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Department for Transport – has concluded that the most effective CAZ would be one restricted to the city centre.
The zone would be either a CAZ Category C or D scheme. A C scheme means that all non-compliant diesel or petrol vehicles including buses, taxis, coaches, minibuses, HGVs and LGVs. A Category D classification would mean the addition of cars to that list.
The council’s report proposes that official conversations start to discuss measures to help people and businesses upgrade their vehicles, including a clean freight fund, clean taxi fund and clean bus fund, along with further measures to support behavioural improvements, such a better walking and cycling infrastructure and more electric vehicle charging points.
Progress is already being made at city-region level with the improvement of Liverpool’s buses, with £12.5m committed this week from the Transforming Cities Fund for 20 buses powered by hydrogen fuel cells.
To provide context on wider packages, Manchester is still awaiting Government responses on requests including £80m for a van/LGV replacement fund and £10.4m for taxi replacement – although it has secured £14.7m to retrofit buses, a projet started late in 2020.
An outline business case for Liverpool’s CAZ scheme, with a confirmed package of measures, will be made this summer with a full business case to follow in January 2022 ahead of proposed implementation by January 2023.
Since 2018, a total of £3.55m has been committed to getting the project to the full business case stage, the report said.