Tyne Bridge lane closures scrapped and 'Clean Air Zone' charges pushed until 2022

Plans to half the number of lanes on Tyne bridge have been scrapped, and new anti-pollution charges have been pushed back to next year.

Tyneside transport bosses have revealed they have ditched proposals to slash the number of general traffic lanes on the bridge from four to two. 

The idea had been put forward in 2019 as a means of cutting down the number of cars driving through the city centre and reducing dangerous emissions levels.

Newcastle and Gateshead council officials now say that the Tyne Bridge measures will not go ahead, claiming that new analysis shows the redesign is "not required" to bring air pollution back within legal limits.

The creation of a 'Clean Air Zone' in which some high-polluting vehicles will be charged daily tolls of up to £50, has also been pushed back till July 2022 from its original launch date of January this year. 

Buses, coaches, and lorries that do not meet environmental standards will have to pay £50 every day to enter the Newcastle city centre, while high-polluting taxis and vans will also be hit with £12.50 fees. 

Private car owners will be exempt from all tolls and councils have also said that details of grants to help drivers with high-polluting vehicles upgrade to cleaner models will also be released in the autumn.

Council Martin Gannon, leader of Gateshead Council, said: 

"We need to achieve a sustainable improvement in our air quality for the people of Gateshead now and for future generations and we believe that these measures will enable us to achieve this."

Council Nick Forbes, leader of Newcastle City Council, said: 

"It is a fact that our collective transport choices are having a negative impact on the air that we breathe and that we all need to take action to change this and make our city a cleaner, greener and healthier place.

"We know that some businesses and individuals who may be affected by the Clean Air Zone charging will need support and we will be announcing a full package of financial help in the autumn, well in advance of any measures being introduced next year.