20 Jun Basildon Council to hold urgent meeting to head off charging Clean Air Zone
Basildon Council will meet in an urgent session on Thursday 27 June to consider its response to threats from the Government to impose a charging zone on the business area to the south of the A127.
At the meeting Council Leader Gavin Callaghan will propose a motion that supports the early implementation of a 50mph zone on the A127 by March 2020, from the Fortune of War to Pound Lane junction, and commits it to pursuing a Clean Air Zone to cover parts of the business area to the south of the A127 at East Mayne and Upper Mayne by Noak Bridge. The motion would also direct the Leader to seek reassurances from Ringway Jacobs, Essex County Council’s contractor responsible for producing the evidence for the emission-reduction measures, that they will meet the government’s deadlines.
Environment Minister Therese Coffey wrote to both Basildon and Essex County councils on 18 June 2019 directing them to complete additional modelling on measures that will improve air quality on the A127 and roads next to it by 31 July 2019 and to submit a full business case on the speed limit measure by 25 October 2019. In the letter the Minister warns that failure to comply with the direction by the deadlines set out could lead to the imposition of a charging Clean Air Zone.
Cllr Callaghan said: “The introduction of a charging zone would be massively detrimental to our businesses and local economy.
“I am incredibly frustrated we have not been able to do more, more quickly to tackle air quality issues around the A127, but Basildon Council is restricted – we are not the highways authority – and we cannot solve congestion alone. We will
“But we must now commit ourselves to do all we can, work with whomever, and do all it takes to stop the imposition, from government or the county council, of a charging zone in our borough. This will begin with a reduction in the speed limit to 50mph on the A127 as soon as possible.
“We will also bring pressure to bear on the county council’s contractor – it is their responsibility to make sure we meet the government’s deadlines.
“We will also work with our businesses to put together a package of measures that will effectively incentivise them to move more quickly to cleaner, sustainable transport that will improve air quality in our borough.”
The motion to Council also acknowledges that the council has had legal advice on the implications of the Ministerial Direction on the Council’s Local Plan. Consequently, it asks the Council Leader to write to the Planning Inspector to request a short adjournment to the examination in public of the Local Plan no later than December 2019.
Cllr Callaghan said: “The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government will need to be made aware of the impact of the DEFRA Ministerial Direction on our Local Plan timetable.”
The extraordinary meeting of the council will take place at 7.30pm on Thursday 27 June. The meeting of the Policy and Resources Committee that was scheduled for that evening will now take place on Thursday 4 July.