Thursday, September 21, 2017

News: Government push for Parkway congestion charges

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Sheffield and Rotherham Councils will need to come up with local plans next year for reducing air pollution or risk the Government imposing schemes to charge users of congested roads like the Parkway.

Rothbiz reported in July on the national UK Air Quality Plan for tackling nitrogen dioxide which includes measures to invest in road improvements to ease congestion, accelerate the uptake low-emission vehicles, retrofit technology to vehicles, promote cycling and walking and invest in bus services.

Rotherham (alongside Sheffield and Doncaster) is one of 38 English local authorities with one or more roads forecast persistently to exceed NO2 legal limits based on initial modelling. Councils have now been charged with putting together feasibility studies as to whether a "Clean Air Zone" (CAZ) is needed in their area.

The zones fall into two categories, non-charging and charging. In non-charging CAZs, a range of local actions on any source of air pollution could be instigated, such as car sharing, cycling schemes, or park and ride schemes.

In addition to the actions above, charging CAZs place additional access restrictions on vehicles that do not meet the set standards of the zone by requiring them to pay a charge to enter. Charges are not a required part of CAZ proposals and would only be expected where equally effective alternatives are not identified.

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Cllr. Emma Hoddinott, cabinet member for community safety at Rotherham Council, said: "I've been really disappointed with the recent Government air quality plan which suggested that the solution for us was to include road charging and to charge for road users to use the Parkway and Centenary Way. We vehemently opposed that - it would not be a solution, it would put a lot of the traffic on to residential roads and that would make it worse for our residents.

"The Government have listened in part to us on that and have removed the proposals for the charging on Centenary Way. However, they still want us to consider, or implement, charging on the Parkway.

"I have real concerns about that and how it may affect our residents but also key strategic sites like the Advanced Manufacturing Park. The Government is asking us to undertake a feasibility study that we've got to do by March next year but I'm very clear that road charging is not the solution to this and we need more Government action."

The member added that the Council had made recent bids to the Government to increase the electric car infrastructure in the borough, but they had been rejected.

The Parkway from Rotherham to Sheffield is one of the most congested routes in the UK. £1.4m was secured from the Department for Transport (DfT) to develop solutions for the area.

With initial local plans due by the end of March 2018, final plans on what measures can be introduced so that air quality limits are achieved within the shortest possible time are due by December 2018. Sheffield Council said that it would be working with Rotherham Council, Highways England and other stakeholders having secured £100,000 from the Government's Joint Air Quality Unit.

Images: SCR LEP


1 comments:

Pete Jones September 25, 2017 at 8:51 AM  

Before they think aboiut congestion charges on the parkway, they ned to provide acces sto the Park and Ride from both inbound and outbound sides. I have to travel into Sheffield on the Parkway, to rurn around to come out to use the Park and Ride because there is no inbound access from the parkway. I create double congestion trying to do the right thing.

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