The zone covers most of Newcastle city centre along with routes over the Tyne, Swing, High Level and Redheugh bridges and will affect taxis, vans, buses, coaches and HGVs that don’t meet national emissions standards.

Charges for non-compliant vehicles to enter the zone were due to be introduced from July this year but, given the proposals Newcastle and Gateshead councils submitted in October 2021 weren’t approved until April 2022, it has been agreed to put back this date to give those affected more time to prepare.

The two councils have initiated discussions with Government officials to agree a revised timeline for the launch of the CAZ.

Cllr Martin Gannon, leader of Gateshead Council, said: ‘It took significantly longer than we expected to receive final Government approval for our plans, along with confirmation of how much funding they would provide for vehicle upgrade grants.

‘This has had an inevitable impact on the time available for us to promote the grants scheme, and for businesses and drivers to access funding and get compliant.’

John McCabe, chair of the North East Chamber of Commerce, said: ‘Good businesses in the region will support the need for clean air improvements but the process needs to be fair. Our members need time to prepare for any changes, especially with increasing business costs.’

Reshma Begum, development manager – North East England, Federation of Small Businesses, said that small businesses recognise the importance of improving air quality but that the decision to postpone the CAZ launch would be ‘a huge relief to sole traders and small businesses across Newcastle, Gateshead and the wider region.’