Taxis to be exempted from Tyne triple whammy as councillors look to clean up air pollution

It has been revealed that motorists could be hit by a triple whammy as Tyneside Council look to lower emissions in the area.

Under new proposals put forward, motorist would have to pay a toll to cross three bridges which traverse the Tyne River, the Tyne Bridge, Swing Bridge ,and Redheugh Bridge.

The proposal would see fees of £1.70 for cars and £3.40 for lorries. There is some good news for the taxi industry as they, along with buses would be given an exemption from paying the toll, should the proposal be approved. 

An alternative proposal on the table could see a Clean Air Zone put in place, with the most high-polluting vehicles being charged £12.50 a day, or £50 for lorries, buses and coaches. 

Government has told councils for the Tyneside area that they must clean up pollution hotspots, to facilitate this they must consider a Clean Air Zone.

However local leaders are concerned that a CAZ could hit the poorest residents and be damaging to the local economy. There are also concerns that a CAZ would not be effective and bring emissions levels to within legal limits. 

As a result, having the bridges turned into toll bridges became an options and is seen by some as the lesser of two evils.

A public consultation is to be launched on the two options in March. Additional measures could also see lorries, buses, and taxis banned from entering Newcatle city centre at certain times if they do not meet minimum emissions standards. 

The consultation will also look at restrictions to cut traffic on the Central Motorway. 

Nick Forbes, Labour leader of Newcastle City Council, said: "This is a public health crisis that has been several decades in the making." He added: "We have a responsibility both legally and morally to do something about it." It is believed that measures to support people and businesses cope with potential charges could  include a scrappage scheme to help people upgrade vehicles and help for people on lower incomes switch to public transport.

There is however a major issue with a poor public transport service in some parts of the area, especially in areas which borders Northumberland with services beng irregular and in some cases very poor at certain times of the day.

Lsat month, Newcastles cabbies gathered over 1,000 signatures to a petition opposing the introduction of tolls. The Newcastle Hackney Carriage Drivers Association said tolls would push prices up for motorists and commuters.

The consultation will run from 6 March until 17 May.
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