Leeds City Council has suspended the introduction of its Clean Air Zone (CAZ).

The CAZ which was due to start in January was originally delayed in March. The council has announced a further suspension to the plans following a “significant fall in pollution levels” during the pandemic.

If the city’s air pollution stays below the legal limits, the council will no longer have the support from the government to introduce the CAZ. The financial support will remain paused until a review of the city’s air pollution is complete.

Cllr James Lewis, deputy leader for Leads City Council said: “As a result of the coronavirus pandemic we have seen pollution levels fall significantly due to the quieter roads. Leeds residents now breathe air that is considerably cleaner and safer than just a few months ago.

“Coronavirus has led to big changes but, thanks to the city’s collective action, local air quality has actually been improving for some time.

“Many of our buses, taxis, private hire and businesses are now driving cleaner vehicles and we’ve accelerated highways schemes that will reduce traffic and create more space for cyclists and pedestrians. We’re investing in public transport infrastructure as part of our £270 million Connecting Leeds transport programme and have introduced policies and schemes to support the uptake of electric and low emission vehicles.

“Leeds City Council is now working closely with central government to review the long-term impact that the pandemic and these other factors will have on the city’s air quality to understand whether pollution will ever reach illegal levels.

“If the city’s air pollution is expected to stay below legal limits then we will no longer have the support of the government to introduce a charging Clean Air Zone. Given this uncertainty, our financial support will

continue to be paused until the review is complete and we have received further direction.

“I hope to be able to clarify the future of the Leeds CAZ in the Autumn”, he added.