Basildon Council and local businesses have joined forces to voice their opposition to proposals for a charging Clean Air Zone (CAZ) in the area.
Council leader Gavin Callaghan and David Barnes, chair of Basildon Business Group, have written to environment secretary Theresa Villiers pledging support for a non-charging CAZ that incorporates the junctions south of the A127 at Upper Mayne and East Mayne.
The letter also ‘strongly opposes’ a Government 'requirement' to introduce a Charging CAZ and highlights the ‘passionate commitment’ of businesses to reduce nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels and improve air quality, the council said.
It states that a charging CAZ would have a detrimental effect on the local economy, which the council said is the biggest in the Thames Estuary outside of Canary Wharf.
The move follows a Ministerial Direction last year from then environment minister Therese Coffey requiring Basildon and Essex councils to introduce a lower speed limit on the A127 and improve their plan to reduce levels on NO2.
Ms Coffey also suggested that the councils should consider ‘a small charging Clean Air Zone’ (CAZ). The letter is a pre-emptive move to persuade ministers to accept a non-charging solution.
Cllr Callaghan said: ‘The quality of air in our borough is of great concern to all of us. We believe a non-charging clean air zone, coupled with other mitigating measures like the reduction of the speed limit to 50mph, will enable continued substantial improvement in air quality in the borough.
‘However, the introduction of a charging clean air zone would serve only to damage our businesses and livelihoods and push the problem to other areas like the Basildon stretch of the A13.'
He added: ‘Many of our local businesses are already demonstrating their commitment to improving air quality by altering deliveries to times outside of rush hour and replacing their fleets with hybrid and Euro 6 compliant vehicles.
‘We are standing together to urge the government to allow sensible non-charging clear air measures instead and we’ve offered to meet with the secretary of state to discuss this in more detail.’