New signage and cameras for the Newcastle and Gateshead Clean Air Zone (CAZ) have been installed and are in operation from today – but without any drivers being charged yet.
A network of 43 signs and 38 cameras are located at entry points around the boundary of the zone to alert drivers.
Additional signage is in place on approaching routes and inside the zone while electronic signs on key routes are also displaying alerts to inform people that charging will start from January 2023.
The CAZ is being introduced to help improve air quality and create a healthier environment by encouraging people and businesses with older, more polluting vehicles to upgrade to cleaner models.
It will cover most of Newcastle city centre as well as routes over the Tyne, Swing, High Level and Redheugh bridges.
Only older higher polluting taxis, vans, buses, coaches and HGVs will be affected by the CAZ. Drivers and vehicle owners can get help and advice and will be able to apply for financial support towards the cost of vehicle upgrades
Private cars, motorbikes and low emission vehicles are not affected by the Newcastle and Gateshead Clean Air Zone.
To help raise awareness and encourage people to get prepared for the CAZ, the cameras will begin to monitor vehicles entering the zone from today (Oct 3).
Owners of non-compliant vehicles will not have to pay now but will be sent letters that will include information on how to get advice and support with upgrading their vehicle.
Charging will be introduced in two phases – with non-compliant taxis, private hire vehicles, buses, coaches and HGVs being charged from 30 January 2023.
Vans and light goods vehicles will not face charges until July 2023 to allow extra time for vehicle replacements, which are currently affected by a national supply shortage.
Cllr Jane Byrne, cabinet member for connected city at Newcastle City Council said: “Although the signage and cameras for the Clean Air Zone are now in place, we want to reassure people that there will be no charges until next year and there is still time to get ready.
“Over the next two months we will be collecting details of vehicles entering the zone and contacting owners of non compliant higher polluting vehicles, which will be affected from January, to make them aware and provide information about how to get support and financial help.
“We know that van drivers are finding it more difficult to replace vehicles at the moment due to national supply issues and therefore we are delaying charges for those vehicles to give those individuals and businesses more time to prepare.”
Cllr John McElroy, cabinet member for the environment and transport at Gateshead Council, said: “Poor air quality is affecting everyone’s health, which is unacceptable and we have to do something about it.
“Reducing the number of older, more polluting vehicles on our roads is one way that we can help to improve our air quality and protect our health.
“Affected drivers will be able to get support, including applying for financial help towards upgrading a vehicle, so we’re encouraging people to check if they are compliant and get in touch to find out about the support available.”
People can check whether their vehicle would be affected by the Clean Air Zone using the government’s online vehicle checker at www.gov.uk/clean-air-zones.
Further information about the CAZ can be found at www.breathe-cleanair.com.