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Leeds City Council has awarded £3.7 million to help local businesses take-up vehicles which are compliant with the soon-to-launch Clean Air Zone in the city.

The zone is to launch in the second half of this year, with an exact date to be confirmed next month, and the council said that since plans were confirmed to introduce the zone last year it has seen a “significant shift towards lower emission vehicles.”

Leeds City Council is bringing in a ‘Class B’ Clean Air Zone, which will see charges levied on older polluting buses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles and HGVs

According to the council, it is estimated the CAZ will reduce the city’s carbon footprint by almost 50,000 tonnes, “helping the city fight the climate emergency.”

The council said that taxi and private hire operators in the city have replaced around 1,000 diesel and petrol vehicles with lower emission hybrid, electric or LPG powered vehicles since last January, citing vehicle licencing data.

Councillor James Lewis, executive member with responsibility for air quality, said: “Like most residents in Leeds we believe that tackling air pollution to protect the health of everyone in Leeds is a priority. We’re already seeing hundreds of cleaner vehicles on our streets and as the Clean Air Charging Zone draws nearer we will no doubt see even more of the worst polluting vehicles disappear from our roads.”

He added: “Helping owners of affected vehicles switch to less polluting models that won’t be charged is the best way to support local businesses. It is also the best way to improve air quality in Leeds before the charging zone’s introduction. I strongly encourage every affected vehicle owner to visit our website today and find out more about what they need to do to prepare for the zone and explore the financial support and exemptions available.”