Tyneside councils will miss the government’s deadline to finalise plans for cutting illegal levels of air pollution for a third time.
Ministers had threatened legal action against Newcastle, Gateshead, and North Tyneside councils if they do not submit their final designs for a controversial Clean Air Zone (CAZ) by 12 November.
But with a six-week public consultation on the latest plans yet to begin, that date will not be met – though the authorities insist the delay will ultimately have no impact on the anti-pollution tolls coming into force in January 2021.
Under the latest proposals, coaches, buses and lorries will be charged £50 daily to drive into Newcastle city centre if they do not meet emissions standards. High-polluting taxis and vans will also pay £12.50, but private cars have been made exempt for now.
Consultation on the plan was due to begin by the end of September, but the councils say that has been pushed back due to delays in legal advice.
Councillors should have been voting to approve the CAZ at meetings in early November, but that vote could now be pushed back to January unless a set of extraordinary meetings are scheduled before then.