Nearly 12,000 Sheffield residents and businesses have had their say on sweeping plans to clean the city’s air.

Following a fantastic number of responses, Sheffield City Council is today thanking everyone who responded to the Clean Air Zone consultation.

More people responded to Sheffield’s Clean Air Zone consultation than they did in both Leeds and Birmingham when those cities held similar conversations about how to slash levels of nitrogen dioxide in the air.

There was a late spike in consultation responses from local businesses, taxi drivers and members of the public. The collective voices of all those responded will then inform the final clean air plans when they go before full cabinet later this year.

An independent local company will be in charge of writing the final report which will be published in the autumn along with the data from the surveys.

In total, 11,875 people responded to Sheffield’s Clean Air Zone proposals, with several hundred coming from local businesses. More than 2,300 responses came from private hire and taxi owners.

In contrast, Leeds received 8,744 responses and Birmingham 10,389.

Councillor Bob Johnson, Cabinet Member for Transport and Development at Sheffield City Council, pictured above, said:

“We’d like to thank the people of Sheffield for responding in such big numbers. We’ve had over three times as many responses as any other recent consultation and to get more responses than other big cities shows just how passionately people feel about this issue.

“The clean air conversation will go on and we urge anyone who may be affected to get in touch with us.

“From talking to the people of Sheffield over the last two months, the message is clear – air pollution is a big issue and people want clean air. However we have to ensure that food can still be delivered, that buses still run and children can get on a coach for a school trip.

“Our focus for next year, if we get the money we’ve asked for from government, will be to help the owners of these vehicles upgrade to the cleanest available before 2021”

The Clean Air Zone plans, established after the government ordered major cities across the UK to improve air quality, encourages the most polluting vehicles to upgrade to electric, hybrid or cleaner engines. It is set to be launched in 2021.

Sheffield City Council is seeking £50m of government support to help drivers upgrade their vehicles and the council wants to work with taxi and van drivers, as well as every other fleet of vehicle affected, to encourage this.

The oldest and most polluting taxis, buses, vans, coaches and Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) will be affected by the pollution charge, with private cars currently exempt. Under plans now being put forward, there will be a pollution charge for driving into Sheffield’s proposed Clean Air Zone. Our proposals are aimed at 20 per cent of the vehicles in the city but cause 50 per cent of the harmful nitrogen dioxide emissions.

The consultation report will now be used to shape final plans, which will include the offers of support for local business people who will be affected by the clean air charging zone. If approved by cabinet, the plans will go to central government’s Joint Air Quality Unit (JAQU) to ask for funds to provide this support.