Clean Air Zones
Clean Air Zones (CAZs) are gaining dominance as a tool to tackle air quality issues in the UK. A number of local authorities have been directed by the Secretary of State to introduce a CAZ, and others are free to do so.
CAZs can either involve charging certain types of vehicle for entering or moving within a zone, or other air quality improvement measures. Whatever is introduced must have the effect of reducing pollution levels below mandatory EU standards as soon as possible – a charging CAZ would be the safest way of demonstrating rapid compliance.
Charging CAZs are a form of road user charging and require an order under the Transport Act 2000. There are four levels of possible zone:
We are currently acting for a number of local authorities in developing their charging CAZ including Bath City Council, Birmingham City Council, Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Leeds City Council, Newcastle Under Lyme Borough Council, Newcastle Upon Tyne City Council, Sheffield City Council, Staffordshire County Council and Stoke on Trent City Council.
We specialise in the authorisation process, including public consultation, the formulation and drafting of legal orders, and the wide range of public law considerations which emerge, including state aid.
Low Emission Zones
Low emission zones and ultra low emission zones are a form of clean air zone and are the name given to them by Transport for London.
We have extensive experience of both introducing and varying such zones. We are currently advising Oxfordshire County Council on their zero emission zone proposals.
Clean air proposals can also be achieved by other measures, including traffic regulation orders and taxi licensing. We also specialise in these areas, and have recently advised Nottingham City Council in this regard.
Road User Charging and Tolls
Road user charging can also be introduced for certain reasons – for instance to tackle congestion, or to raise revenue for new roads or river crossings. Tolling is another means by which the construction and maintenance of roads and river crossings can be financed.
We are currently advising National Highways on the proposed Lower Thames Crossing, which would be subject to a road user charge.
We also have extensive experience of advising owners of roads and river crossings on amendments to tolling regimes, such as the Mersey Tunnels.
Workplace Parking Levies
Workplace parking levies (WPLs) are a system whereby employers are charged for providing parking spaces for their workers as a way of reducing congestion and raising money for transport projects.
Nottingham City Council is currently the only local authority to have introduced a WPL and we acted for them by developing the scheme, drafting the scheme Order and liaising with the Department for Transport. We also advise Nottingham City Council on clean air proposals implemented via traffic regulation measures.
We are also advising on developing a framework for the introduction of WPL schemes in London.
Public Affairs and Communications
Proposals for clean air zones, road user charging and workplace parking levies can often generate controversy. Our specialist Public Affairs and Communications team work with clients on political, community and media engagement, as well as message development and reputation management.
The team work regularly with local authorities on a range of political, engagement and consultation issues and advised on Oxfordshire on its approach, internally and externally, to the development of potential charging schemes.