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Taxi drivers to be targeted as installation of Clean Air Charging in Leeds begins

Leeds City Council has started to install the camera infrastructure required to monitor and enforce the Clean Air Charging Zone (CAZ).

The zone will charge owners of HGVs, buses, coaches, taxis and private hire vehicles. Private cars, light goods vehicles, and motorcycles will however not be charged.

When live, the zone will tackle air pollution in Leeds by encouraging businesses to transition to cleaner, less polluting vehicles to avoid daily charges. Starting last week, the council has now begun to install a network of around 300 new, purpose-built cameras equipped with automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) technology at over a hundred junctions around the perimeter of the zone as planned. The cameras will only be used to enforce the Clean Air Charging Zone; they will not be able to detect the speed of vehicles and can’t be used to issue speeding or parking fines. By recognising registration numbers and comparing them with a national government database, the camera network system will be able to identify non-compliant vehicles driving within the CAZ boundary when the zone is live. The network will be designed, supplied, installed, operated and maintained by Siemens Mobility Limited. The company have previously delivered similar solutions to monitor the Ultra Low Emission Zone in London. Cllr. James Lewis, Leeds City Council’s Executive Member for Resources and Sustainability, said: “Like most residents, Leeds City Council believes that tackling air pollution to protect the health of everyone in the city is a priority. “Whilst it is disappointing that the council has been forced to postpone the Clean Air Charging Zone’s introduction because of delays to government systems, the council is doing everything it can to ensure that we are ready to implement the zone within the shortest possible timescale. “We are still waiting for the government to outline new timescales for their systems that they are confident can be delivered before we can finalise a new date for the charging zone’s introduction. “Despite the government's delays, we are already taking a range of actions that will support the reduction of air pollution prior to the introduction of the CAZ. We are also continuing to financially support owners of affected vehicles switching to less polluting models that won't be charged as doing so is the best way to improve air quality before the zone goes live. "Money raised from CAZ charges will only be used to cover the costs of operating the zone itself, to support owners of affected vehicles, and for other schemes to improve air quality."

Owners of affected vehicles meeting the council’s eligibility criteria are in the process of receiving financial support worth a collective £23 million to help cover the costs of transitioning to cleaner vehicles.

Wilke Reints, Managing Director at Siemens Mobility’s Intelligent Traffic Systems business, said: “Having worked with the team in Leeds on a number of earlier projects, we are delighted to be working with the council on this programme and to build on the work that we have already undertaken to deliver Transport for London’s Congestion Charging and Ultra Low Emission Zones. “At the heart of the zone will be the company’s proven Sicore II automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras. Sicore is proven in applications worldwide, with the ability to provide three-lane coverage with just a single camera, industry-leading image quality and number plate read accuracy. “These cameras will not only monitor the Clean Air Charging Zone, but could potentially also provide the highways team with a wealth of data both to help inform policy and aid tactical traffic management decisions to improve the road user’s experience."

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