NewcastleGateshead “clean air zone”: reducing the impact on the economy

04 Mar 2019

NewcastleGateshead “clean air zone”: reducing the impact on the economy

The recent proposal to reduce congestion and create a “clean air zone”, by introducing tolls on the Tyne Bridge, Swing Bridge and Redheugh Bridge (Evening Chronicle, 26 February), is both responsible and ethical. However, we can’t ignore the possibility that the imposition of a toll would have a negative impact on the economy of Newcastle/Gateshead and the wider region, unless we take action to mitigate this.

By being positive and innovative the challenge can be met without causing too much adverse impact on the economy, although the change will have an immediate and short-term impact until the improvements are put in place.

Others I’m sure will have good ideas on how to minimise the impact, but here are some of mine as a starter:

  • Improve the road layout system and make further investment in a full digital traffic management system to reduce congestion.
  • Make the Tyne and Redheugh Bridges one directional at rush-hour. In the alternative, take a more radical approach by creating a clockwise or counter-clockwise traffic flow around Newcastle and Gateshead using Central Motorway East, Tyne Bridge, Askew Road, Redheugh Bridge, St James Blvd, and Barrack Road/Ponteland Road. Make investment and link this to improvements in the digital traffic management system.
  • Provide free public transport. This is done elsewhere in Europe to good effect.
  • Provide more energy points for hybrid and electric/alternative fuel. This can be paid for by creating energy generation on all of the surface car parks and on the roof of all our multi-story car parks.

We need to change the culture which has been too dependent upon the internal combustion engine for over a century.

The proposal of imposing tolls might be a quick and easy sword to use but it is to blunt a tool and will be very damaging to our economy. Let us all help our local politicians in this dilemma by thinking positively and proactively so that the region is shown to be leaders in change, and a responsible place in which to live, do business and enjoy leisure.

Kevan Carrick, Partner-Investment Development, JK Property Consultants LLP, and Chairman of North East Initiative on Business Ethics.