PLANS for a clean air zone in the district have been delayed.

The scheme – under which commercial vehicles, including HGVs and taxis, that fail to meet certain emission standards will be charged a daily fee to enter Shipley and Bradford – was due to come into force next Wednesday (January 5).

But Bradford Council says the zone will not now be implemented until the spring, allowing businesses more time to use available clean air funding and upgrade their vehicles.

In addition, a new £1.7m fund to increase electric vehicle grants available for taxis has been introduced.

Councillor Sarah Ferriby, the council’s executive member for healthy people and places, said: "The council has had a lot of positive feedback from businesses which are being helped to upgrade their vehicles. However, there is a national shortage of compliant vans and lorries, with many companies reporting delays for the delivery of their new vehicles.

"We have also taken into account the potential impact that latest Covid restrictions could have on businesses as they adapt to the clean air zone. This extended lead-in period will therefore assist businesses in making preparations."

The council has also announced a taxi scrappage scheme, enabling drivers to opt for an electric taxi with increased £10,000 grants from the new fund.

Cllr Ferriby added: "I want to thank the licensed taxi trade for all it's doing to make the air cleaner in Bradford district. 

"With many successful grant awards, we are making significant progress. The new funding available alongside the extended lead-in period means that there are more opportunities for taxi owners to apply for increased grants if they wish to upgrade to an electric vehicle."

But some taxi operators in the district have criticised the new fund, adding that many drivers have left the trade because of the looming clean air zone – and others have already upgraded vehicles.

Asif Shah, of the Better Taxi Action Group, said: "A lot of people decided to leave the trade because they couldn’t afford to pay out £10,000 for a new vehicle, so it’s a little bit late to extend the fund."

Councillor Martin Love, leader of the council’s Green group, said: "It’s incredibly frustrating that Bradford Council has waited until the eleventh hour to delay the introduction of the clean air zone. The additional grants for taxi drivers are welcome – but these could have been in place much sooner."