Clean Air Zones key to refreshing UK air quality

EIC campaign for low emission zones hits the mark as Government commits to improve what the country breathes.

Government has launched a consultation to seek views from local and transport authorities, businesses and members of the public on what local action can be taken to improve air quality. At the same time it has released a national framework that seeks to bring the UK into compliance with limits for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in a number of areas by 2020 and in London by 2025.

The plans ask local authorities who are facing particular challenges to look at further action such as creating Clean Air Zones, introducing low emission buses and taxis, and using data to inform new road layouts.

Find out more on air quality at the EIC annual conference Date: 19 November 2015 Venue: The Willis Building, London 

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- Lancaster University

The move was welcomed by the Environmental Industries Commission which has been campaigning to have Clean Air Zones adopted nationwide.

'I'm pleased that Ministers have at long last accepted EIC's arguments for a national framework of Low Emission Zones/Clean Air Zones, which local authorities could use to introduce local emissions restrictions against consistent national standards,” said EIC director general Matthew Farrow. 

“Beyond this there is a lot of detail in the proposals which we will be looking at carefully.  It is important to remember that the consultation plans only focus on how we might achieve belated legal compliance with EU NO2 limits.  With the WHO saying that EU limits are not tough enough and particulates also a major health issue, achieving NO2 compliance would be the start not the end of making our air safe to breathe.”

The plans released for consultation outline how new, green technology can be exploited to create communities where people want to live and work, while boosting a growing economy and making Britain a world leader in low emission technology.

Options local authorities can consider include:

  • networks of electric car charging points
  • introducing low emission buses and taxis or converting fleets
  • upgrading cycling infrastructure
  • introducing or expanding park and ride schemes.

“The plans emphasise the long term aim of making electric and zero emissions vehicles the norm.  This makes sense but EIC will shortly publish research conducted with consultancy Temple Group looking at the role of a wider range of pollution control technologies that can deliver better short term air quality benefits,” said Farrow.

London is embracing new technology and planning tools and in 2020 will introduce the UK’s first ultra-low emission zone. The first fully electric bus route in the UK will launch later this month in Croydon and by 2020 there will be 300 electric buses running in central London and 3,000 double-decker hybrid buses.

"Tackling air pollution is a priority for government, and we want local authorities and members of the public to come forward and share ideas on action to be taken at local level to make our nation cleaner,” said Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss.

“Helping communities improve their local air quality will support national plans to tackle air quality, which together will seek to create some of the cleanest cities in the world whilst putting Britain at the forefront of green technology.”

The move towards embracing clean technology – including the government’s ambition that almost every car and van on our roads will be zero emission by 2050 – will be incentivised by at least £200M of government grants for plug-in cars and vans and £50 million of support for local authorities and transport operators to convert their taxis and clean up bus fleets, Truss said.

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