Nottingham City Council has ditched plans to introduce a clean air zone (CAZ) after modelling showed it could reduce air pollution to below the legal limit within two years.
Nottingham was one of five cities, including Leeds, Southampton, Derby and Birmingham, ordered by Government to introduce a clean air zone (CAZ) to meet emission limits for nitrogen dioxide.
However, with final plans due to be submitted to Government by September, Nottingham City Council claims that other measures being introduced by the local authority will help it achieve compliance earlier than expected.
Cllr Sally Longford, portfolio holder for energy and environment at Nottingham City Council, said: “Results of air quality modelling showed these measures will have a significant effect in reducing emissions, bringing Nottingham into compliance by 2020.”
Nottingham had been planning to introduce a Class B CAZ – which would have affected HGVs, buses and taxis. But Cllr Longford said: “The actions we’re taking will have a positive impact across the whole city, rather than just in one area.
“Our priority has always been the health of our citizens, rather than meeting Government targets, and this hasn’t changed.
"Road vehicles are one of the largest contributors to air pollution, and it’s thanks to the council’s significant and sustained investment in green public transport, like the trams and low emission buses, that we are in a really strong position to be able to improve air quality.”
James Ashton, transport strategy manager at Nottingham City Council, told Fleet News earlier this year how air quality data from the Government did not tally with the council’s own information.
Government modelling suggested the worst concentration of poor air quality is on Nottingham’s ring road; however, the council’s own data shows it is located in the centre of the city.
“Our modelling shows that the fleet will clean up on its own as people get newer vehicles – even without CAZ,” added Ashton.
“Government modelling shows traffic growth, but our measurements show traffic is reducing due to the sustainable traffic measures we have implemented.
“If we take out the assumption of traffic growth, we will be compliant much before 2024.”
The council now believes that it can be compliant by 2020, thanks to a range of environmental projects, which include retrofitting 180 NCT buses with clean exhaust technology, requiring every taxi and private hire vehicle in the city to be low emission, and the council replacing its own heavy vehicles – such as bin lorries – with electric or other low emission vehicles.
In addition, the council is considering plans to revise the Clear Zone – which restricts access to the city centre – to include emissions criteria and a taxi permit scheme.
Cllr Longford explained that Nottingham already has one of the UK’s largest all-electric park and ride fleets and an electric tram that carries more than 17 million people every year, while NCT operates the world’s largest fleet of low emission bio-gas buses. “These measures have already gone a long way to achieving cleaner air in the city,” she said.
Nottingham City Council’s executive board will consider a series of proposals later this month, which include retrofitting older buses to meet Euro VI standards, introducing more low emission vehicles on the council’s fleet and reducing minimum age requirements on taxis. This will be supported with the introduction of an incentives package to shift the taxi fleet to ward low emission vehicles, including a ‘try before you buy’ leasing scheme.
The board will also be asked to approve, in principle, further measures, including amending the city’s two Air Quality Management Areas to cover the whole city, and seeking to enforce anti-idling legislation.
If agreed, a public consultation will take place in August, before the city’s final local air quality plan is submitted.
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