Local Government Lawyer Home Page


Sharpe Edge Webpage Banner

Welcome to Sharpe Edge, Sharpe Pritchard’s local government legal hub on Local Government Lawyer.

Sharpe Edge features news, views and analysis from our team of specialist local government lawyers working at the heart of the latest legal developments. Sharpe Edge platform is also the only place where local government lawyers can get e-access to two law books by our Head of Local Government Rob Hann: The Guide to Local Authority Charging and Trading Powers (‘LACAT’) and The Guide to Local Authority Companies and Partnerships (‘LACAP’).

 

                                                                                                  

Slide background

Hard Times: Improving Air Quality with Clean Air Zones

Icons CourtRob Hann and James Goldthorpe examine the introduction of Clean Air Zones to improve air quality across the UK.


In Hard Times, Charles Dickens – rarely considered an environmentalist – described Victorian London as an “ugly Citadel, where Nature was as strongly bricked out as killing airs and gases were bricked in[1]”.  Even before the invention of cars, noxious emissions in Victorian London were up to fifty times higher than in the decade after the clean air acts. Pollution,  Dickens reminds us, has been ‘bricked in’ to urban life since the industrial revolution: threatening the health, longevity, and wellbeing of anyone who has lived in a city since the mid-19th century.  But what can we do to mitigate this age-old problem?

Clean Air Zones: Coming to a Town Near you

Following the latest decision in the ClientEarth Litigation [2] – which acknowledged the Government’s duty to mitigate the “real and persistent risk of significant harm” presented by the UK’s air quality – local and central government policymakers have been urgently implementing innovative solutions to improve the air quality in major cities. One such solution has been Clean Air Zones (“CAZ”).  CAZ are defined areas in which targeted action is taken to improve the quality of air by reducing emissions caused by traffic congestion and exhaust fumes. In many instances, CAZ will be roads or defined areas in which certain vehicles will be charged or fined for entering.  In recent years, the number of CAZ have been rapidly proliferating across the country with existing areas being extended as local authorities seek to deliver the changes promised in their Climate Emergency declarations.

As demonstrated by a useful map published by the RAC, a plethora of UK cities have been considering introducing CAZ with dozens of schemes pending approval. On 25 October 2021, London’s Ultra-Low Emissions Zone was extended to be 18 times its original size and will now capture some of the city’s most populous – and residential – areas such as parts of Brent, Barnet and Newham. Outside the capital, CAZ have already been confirmed. Whilst this is likely to be welcomed by environmentalists and public health officials, local opposition to those schemes which involve charging is often high. Those drivers who are simply passing through an unfamiliar City or Town to (perhaps) take teenage off-spring to visit various University options, may also find themselves wondering ‘what the Dickens is going on?’ as signs appear announcing the introduction of new charging CAZ.

A Tax on Drivers?

Viewed by some as a tax on sole traders and small businesses, charging in a CAZ typically falls under four Classes – Class A, B, C and D. Which vehicle is affected depends upon which CAZ the local transport authority has decided to adopt in the area. The different classes of vehicle covered under the 4 Classes are as follows:

  • Class A – covers buses, coaches and taxis.
  • Class B – affects buses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles and heavy goods vehicles.
  • Class C – covers buses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles, heavy goods vehicles, vans and minibuses.
  • Class D – is all-encompassing and includes buses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles, heavy goods vehicles, vans, minibuses and domestic cars, plus the local authority has the option to include motorcycles.

By charging, policymakers have sought to incentivise the adoption of Electric Vehicle (EV) technology particularly amongst commercial vehicles (though Class C and D may capture some domestic vehicles) and thus reduce emissions across local supply chains and transport networks. To many, this will seem like a logical way to incentivise the transition to EV; however, when the same tiers of changes are applied to residents in London, valid concerns regarding the equity (or otherwise) of taxing the less well-off owners of old cars are likely to be expressed.

In a similar vein, some local authorities fear that a charging CAZ may deter visitors, tourists and businesses to their regions at a time when Councils are seeking to entice people back into city centres to help rebuild local economies in the wake of the Covid 19 pandemic. However, given our understanding of the effects of air pollution on human health (including evidence linking it to Covid-19 hospitalisations) the public health and environmental imperative to improve air quality makes the case for action compelling.

Conclusion

This week, the focus of world leaders at Glasgow’s COP26 will be fixed on ‘Net Zero’ – the goal of reducing Green House Gas emissions to a level equal to quantities being removed from the atmosphere. Great Expectations have been raised in advance of COP26. The hope is that the summit will lead to a major push by World Leaders to clean up the air we breathe; to dramatically reduce harmful carbon emissions and, in the process, ease the impact on the climate and the environment. However, it is clear that some of these necessary changes to our existing way of life, and some of the impact from measures designed to improve the quality of the very air we all breathe have already arrived.

Given the widespread adoption of CAZ which looks set to take hold across large areas of England in the next few years, driving around the Country will involve more than a quick glance at the satnav to check out the route. Motorists will also need to explore whether they are driving a vehicle which may trigger a charge through an area covered by a charging CAZ.

Perhaps that’s a small price to pay for what should be something we all take for granted – clean air to breathe?

[1] Charles Dickens, Hard Times.

[2] R (Client Earth (No 3)) v (1) Secretary of State for Environment, Food And Rural Affairs (2) The Secretary of State for Transport and (3) Welsh Ministers [2018] EWHC 315 (Admin)) 2018

Rob Hann is Legal Director and Head of Local Government and James Goldthorpe is a Paralegal at Sharpe Pritchard LLP.
 

For further insight and resources on local government legal issues from Sharpe Pritchard, please visit the SharpeEdge page by clicking on the banner below.

sharpe edge 600x100

This article is for general awareness only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this page was first published. If you would like further advice and assistance in relation to any issue raised in this article, please contact us by telephone or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

LACAT BookFREE download!

A Guide to Local Authority Charging and Trading Powers

Written and edited by Sharpe Pritchard’s Head of Local Government, Rob Hann,

A Guide to Local Authority Charging and Trading Powers covers:

• Updated charging powers compendium          • Commercial trading options

• Teckal ‘public to public’                                    • Localism Act

FREE DOWNLOAD

LACAT BookAvailable to buy:

A Guide to Local Authority Companies and Partnerships

An invaluable, comprehensive toolkit for lawyers, law firms and others advising
on or participating in Local Authority Companies and Partnerships”

- Local Authority Chief Executive

BUY NOW

  More Articles

Icons Hazard

Unconscious Bias, Discrimination and a Warning to Public Sector Employers

Christian Grierson and Julie Bann discuss two employment tribunal judgements, which provide a stark warning to public sector employers about unconscious bias and discrimination.
<a href=

Levelling up – A new opportunity for further devolution in England?

Rob Hann explores the Government's 'levelling up' policy and looks at whether it is an opportunity for further devolution in England.
<a href=

Time limits for commencing proceedings in procurement challenges

Colin Ricciardiello discusses a landmark procurement challenge judgment on the time limit for commencing proceedings.
Icons Hazard

The Revised National Planning Policy Framework: Better design, greener outcomes?

Alastair Lewis and Sarah Wertheim outline the latest National Planning Policy Framework changes and explain how future developments will be impacted by the new rules.
<a href=

Loose talk costs money: Oral agreement to forego liquidated damages was valid

Michael Comba outlines and analyses a contract dispute resolution: Mansion Place Ltd v Fox Industrial Services Ltd [2021] EWHC 2972 (TCC)
<a href=

Procurement reform – an update

Radhika Devesher and Natasha Barlow provide a summary of the proposed and enacted changes to the UK procurement regime post-Brexit.
Icons Court

The Public Procurement Review Service Report: Procurement Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

Juli Lau and Beth Edwards examine some of the most common procurement pitfalls and provide a checklist of points for local authorities to bear in mind in order to avoid costly errors.
<a href=

JCT Dispute Adjudication Board Rules: a case of “three’s a crowd”?

Peter Jansen who specialises in construction law and dispute resolution, examines the roles and functions of the JCT’s Dispute Adjudication Board and highlights some key considerations for parties planning to adopt the Rules in their JCT contracts.
<a href=

The Electric Vehicle Revolution or…

Emily Knowles discusses new legislation on the requirement of electric vehicle charging points, and its potential impact on the Electric Vehicle Revolution.
<a href=

Consultation on the Electronic Communications Code – What’s Changing?

Lillee Reid-Hunt outlines the legislative changes to the Electronic Communications Code.
Icons Court

You Must Adjudicate First NEC3 imposes obligation to adjudicate first before commencing court proceedings.

Michael Comba discusses NEC3 imposing an obligation to adjudicate first before commencing court proceedings.
Icons Court

Rocking aground the Christmas tree

Clare Mendelle and George Dale discuss and solve a common construction scenario, looking at the position under the Contract, and how the Employer should deal with the Contractor's request.
Icons Hazard

Adequacy Decision Granted to the UK

Charlotte Smith considers two recent adequacy decisions and explains how this affects existing data practices.
<a href=

Managing employees with long COVID and employees who have anxiety about returning to the office

Julie Bann and Victoria Smith consider how Long Covid may be treated under existing employment laws and provide compliance guidance for employers.
<a href=

Environment Act 2021: What Does it Mean for Waste Authorities?

Sally Stock, Juli Lau, Ellen Painter and Beth Edwards discuss notable changes made to the Environment Bill 2021-2022, which received Royal Assent on the 9th November.
<a href=

ESG and its relevance to the public sector

Peter Collins and Sydney Chandler discuss the growing importance of Environmental, Social, and Governance criteria in public procurement.
<a href=

JCT 101: Time and Punishment

Rachel Murray-Smith, Clare Mendelle and Laura Campbell discuss a common Construction scenario regarding the Practical Completion of a project, and the position under the unamended JCT DB 2016.
Icons Court

The importance of due process, communication and fairness in employee conduct investigations – what you need to know.

Julie Bann and James Hughes discuss the importance of fairness in employee conduct investigations, taking a look at the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham -v- Mr S Keable case.
<a href=

Becoming More Inclusive: VAT and Public Procurement

Juli Lau, Natasha Barlow and Beth Edwards examine the recently published Public Procurement Regulations 2021, focussing upon amendments to the thresholds within various procurement regimes.
<a href=

The LADs are Alright

Laura Campbell discusses liquidated damages in construction contracts, focussing upon the long-running Triple Point saga which ended in the Supreme Court this year.
<a href=

Procurement Policy Note 08/21

Juli Lau and Beth Edwards outline Procurement Policy Note 08/21, recently published by the Cabinet office.
<a href=

Autumn Budget Spending Review 2021 – What Public Bodies Need To Know

Rob Hann and James Hughes examine the Autumn Budget Spending Review 2021, looking at what Public Bodies need to know.
<a href=

Net Zero – What’s new for local authorities?

Steve Gummer and Sophie Drysdale look at two major climate publications: the Heat and Buildings Strategy and the Net Zero Strategy.
Icons Hazard

Jumping to conclusions: Final Statements, liquidated damages and material breaches of natural justice

Michael Comba looks at a recent Technology and Construction Court case that provides useful guidance on the JCT’s procedural requirements on disputing Final Statements.
Icons Court

Three times one equals one: Several disputed payment applications amount to a single dispute

Michael Comba considers a case in which the High Court dismissed an employer’s argument that an adjudicator lacked jurisdiction because the referral concerned three separate payment applications and, therefore, comprised three separate disputes.
<a href=

Warm feelings or hot air: the Heat and Buildings Strategy and Heat Networks

This week the government published its Heat and Buildings Strategy (Strategy). This contained vital innovations and essential step changes in terms of how heating is provided, writes Steve Gummer.
<a href=

Procurement reforms: update from Cabinet Office

Rob Hann, Nicola Sumner and Juli Lau assess the Cabinet Office's update on the progress of the government's public procurement reforms.
Icons Court

Bond, Performance Bond. Delivering value for the Public Sector?

Justin Mendelle examines whether public sector clients achieve value for money from the provision of performance bonds.
Icons Hazard

Not so personal messages: R. (on the application of Good Law Project Ltd) v Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and Abingdon Health Plc [2021] EWHC 2595 (TCC)

Nicola Sumner, Juli Lau and Beth Edwards look at The Good Law Project's challenge of the direct award by the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care of three contracts for the production and supply of rapid Covid-19 antibody tests (the “Contracts”).
<a href=

Insolvency – Termination and Beyond

Rachel Murray-Smith and Clare Mendelle consider the potential warning signs of, and the compliant manner for dealing with, contractor insolvency.
Icons Court

Settlement agreements – waiving Personal Injury claims

In the case of Farnham-Oliver v RM Educational Resources LTD, the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court allowed a Personal Injury claim (“PI claim”) to be pursued by an employee against his former employer despite the parties signing a Settlement Agreement in respect of an Employment Tribunal claim on the same issue. Julie Bann and James Hughes report.
Icons Hazard

Mandatory Vaccination for Care Home Workers in England – Update

Rachel Murray-Smith and Francesca Gallagher look at the detail of the government's guidance on compulsory vaccination for care staff.
<a href=

Make your mind up! Liquidated Damages clause upheld despite Employer’s challenge

In the recent case of Eco World Ballymore (EWB) v Dobler[1] , an Employer took the unusual position of challenging their own entitlement to liquidated damages (LDs) on the ground that the LDs provision constituted an unenforceable penalty clause. Clare Mendelle and James Goldthorpe investigate.
<a href=

Are Collateral Warranties Construction Contracts? Timing is Key.

Clare Mendelle and Anna Sidebottom examine the recently decided case of Toppan v Simply[1], which has provided guidance on when collateral warranties may be considered “construction contracts” under the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996 and so give the warranty holder the right to adjudicate.
Icons Court

Climate emergency or climate catastrophe?

Rob Hann asks how central & local government departments and councils can work together more effectively to combat the challenges to achieve net zero by 2050.
Slide background