A Labour-run city council has announced plans to prevent a Clean Air Zone from being set up in the area and protect motorists with new traffic measures.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council said it is preparing “alternative proposals” instead of a Clean Air Zone in a bid to cut emissions across the area.
Harmful levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) were found along Victoria Road in Fenton, prompting the Government to instruct the council to act.
A Clean Air Zone would have seen motorists charged to drive in the city centre, potentially harming road users and affecting local businesses.
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The Labour council have U-turned on the decision to rollout a Clean Air Zone
Some options for the council include changing junctions and improving pedestrian and cycle routes along the busy stretch of road.
Any plans designed to reduce emissions in the area need to be formally approved by the Government.
Previous reports suggested that a Clean Air Zone in the city would have been the quickest way to reduce pollution to more suitable levels.
The measures, which were previously thought to roll out this year, could have seen owners of buses, taxis, vans and HGVs at risk of paying a daily fee for driving inside the zone.
Jane Ashworth OBE, leader of Stoke-on-Trent City Council, said the new plans could prevent drivers from being hammered with extra costs.
The Labour councillor for Burslem added: “During our time as opposition we always said that a CAZ would have a negative impact on the city’s economy, and we should be allowed to bring in other ways to improve air quality.
“It’s vital we do this for the public health of our residents and visitors while supporting businesses.
“Pollution levels have naturally dropped over time as fewer older vehicles are on the roads as their owners have bought newer models.”
She added that the council was making a “clear case” to the Government that a Clean Air Zone is not necessary for the city, describing it as a “sledgehammer to crack a nut”.
Councillor Amjid Wazir OBE, cabinet member for city pride, enforcement and sustainability, reiterated the plans to ditch any emissions-based charging scheme by improving the flow of traffic.
Grants may also be on offer to taxi drivers to upgrade their vehicles to electric in a move designed to cut emissions from vehicles driving around the city.
The council said emissions had naturally begun to fall with fewer older cars on the road, with these vehicles being one of the biggest contributors to pollution.
There are a number of Clean Air Zones around the UK
Councillor Wazir added: “We’re working hard on finishing a plan that doesn’t include a CAZ. To improve air quality, we must improve traffic flow through this area and make it easier for people to choose other ways to travel.”
It is expected that the council will present a full business case to the Government later in the summer.