Clean air zone grants now available for more businesses

Up to 500 more van, LGV and minibus owners could receive funds to upgrade vehicles under new rules.
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A blue sign warning drivers that a Clean Air Zone is half a mile ahead

A financial support scheme to help those affected by Clean Air Zone charges is opening up to more businesses.

Changes to the eligibility criteria mean that more people with vans, light goods vehicles and minibuses will be able to qualify for funding to help buy cleaner vehicles that comply with CAZ emissions requirements.

Under new criteria, vehicles in this category that are registered to a home or business address in Newcastle, Gateshead or North Tyneside local authority areas will now qualify for funding without the need to demonstrate regular business activity within the CAZ. 

It’s estimated that this could make funding available to up to 500 local people, businesses and community groups who had previously been unable to provide the information needed to meet the eligibility criteria.

Cllr Marion Williams, cabinet member for a connected, clean city at Newcastle City Council, said: “Up until now we’ve prioritised applications from those conducting regular business activity within the CAZ and I’m pleased that many of these most-affected drivers and businesses have benefited from this funding.

“However, we know that there has been a particular issue for a significant number of locally-based applicants with vans and minibuses who have not been able to meet the eligibility criteria but who have been affected by CAZ charges.

“Therefore we are making funding more accessible for these businesses and organisations so that they can get help towards the cost of upgrading to a cleaner vehicle.”

Cllr John McElroy, cabinet member for the environment and transport at Gateshead Council said: “It’s great to see many people have taken action to start driving cleaner vehicles on our roads, and now we are able to expand the eligibility for grants.

“It’s important to clean up our air, and also ensure we are fair to those affected by the Clean Air Zone.”

Applicants who have previously applied unsuccessfully, but who may now be eligible for funding, will be contacted and invited to reapply. 

Applications for other new applicants will reopen once these targeted applicants have been processed and eligibility for other categories of vehicle, as well as for vans or LGVs registered to addresses elsewhere in Tyne and Wear, Northumberland or County Durham local authority areas, will remain the same.

However, under the revised terms and conditions, councils have agreed that new applications for retrospective funding will no longer be accepted.

Changes will also be made in relation to temporary exemptions during the application process. They will now only be provided for applicants who meet the eligibility criteria and the exemption period will last for 90 days from the date the eligibility is confirmed.

All applicants are reminded that, due to financial auditing requirements, funding cannot be provided if the sale or purchase of a vehicle has been made using cash.

The Clean Air Zone was introduced in response to a legal direction from government requiring Newcastle and Gateshead councils to take action to address illegal levels of pollution in certain areas.

The CAZ only applies to non-compliant taxis, vans, buses, coaches and HGVs that do not meet national emissions requirements. Privately owned cars are not affected.

Newcastle and Gateshead councils, together with government, continue to monitor pollution levels in order to assess the impact of the Clean Air Zone. Data for the annual average pollution levels for 2023 are expected to be published by DEFRA later this year.

Full details about the Clean Air Zone, including who is affected, how to pay a CAZ charge and how to apply for a grant, can be found at www.breathe-cleanair.com