Labour's unworkable proposals dropped, Liberal Democrats ideas accepted, but air quality plans unclear and City may still be prosecuted

August 14, 2019 11:38 AM
Tyne Bridge"The news that the councils on both sides of the Tyne seem to be no longer considering the possibility of a £12.50 daily charge for the Central Motorway, Coast Road and Gosforth High Street will be a relief to many people, but it isn't immediately obvious that the new proposals comply with the relevant air quality targets. These plans appear to do nothing to improve identified air quality problem areas like Shields Road, the Cradlewell, Gosforth High Street, and the Coast Road," said Cllr Greg Stone, Liberal Democrats opposition spokesperson on transport and air quality.
"The objective of introducing a clean air zone in the city centre is understandable given that public transport alternatives exist, but this still presents an issue for cross-city journeys. Clearly taxi drivers and van users will be hit hardest if private cars are excluded
"We want to see much more detail on the councils' modelling of these options and particularly on the New Bridge Street roundabout access restrictions, as their new option three has the potential to significantly increase traffic congestion and emissions on the New Bridge Street / Byker Bridge corridor and will put even greater pressure on the Jesmond Road / Osborne Road junction as the only access to the Central Motorway from the east of the city.
"We welcome the fact that the council has accepted our calls for extending freight consolidation to reduce delivery journeys, and is seeking to support conversion to low emissions bus, taxis, and goods vehicles. The bulk of the air quality problem in the city centre is caused by diesel emissions and we want to see the council back the Opposition's call to introduce low-emission bus corridors on key routes including along Gosforth High Street, the West Road, and Coast Road to dramatically improve air quality.
"This seems like the last roll of the dice if Newcastle and Gateshead are to avoid being prosecuted on air quality breaches. They have spent years doing nothing, and have wasted the last year on unworkable proposals. They now have just weeks left to finalise their preferred option and demonstrate how it will comply with air quality legislation. It is still unclear to me that the new proposals achieve this."