Exeter city council has adopted a three-year low emission strategy which aims to cut traffic pollution from council, business and private vehicles.
Approved at a council meeting this week (March 3), the strategy seeks to integrate low emission strategies into “mainstream policy development for transport and planning” in order to tackle nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter and noise levels from traffic.
In 2011 Exeter City Council declared an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) because measured levels of nitrogen dioxide were higher in some parts of the city than EU limit values and the UK’s annual average limit of 40 microgrammes per cubic metre.
The strategy states: “The main sources of the high NO2 concentrations are transport emission, and this is reflected in the AQMA boundary, which includes all of the main routes into and around the city.”
As such, the council last August planned and later consulted on a new Low Emission strategy for 2015-2018, having estimated that poor air quality in the city contributes to the premature deaths of 42 people each year (see airqualitynews.com story).
Although the strategy makes no mention of any intention to investigate the feasibility of introducing a low emission zone (LEZ), it does set out the council’s intention to seek funding from the government’s Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) in order to increase the number of organisations and individuals using such vehicles in the city.
As well as investigating how to reduce emission from council owned and staff vehicles – highlighting the possibility of alternative fuels – the strategy also outlines the council’s intention to work with local businesses to champion freight delivery changes, such as changing delivery times to avoid congestion and consolidating loads.
The council also plans to investigate how age and emission standards can be used to encourage licensed taxi companies to change to low emission vehicles for both hackney cabs and private hire vehicles.
Other initiatives seek to raise public awareness by promoting sustainable travel choices, developing park and ride initiatives, promoting rail travel into the city and championing the development of enhanced walking and cycling routes alongside new infrastructure and development.
The council also plans to introduce sites for commuting employees on the outskirts of Exeter to car share to reduce the number of car journeys.
A Low Emission Strategy steering group made up of representatives from the city council, Devon county council and ‘key partners’ has been set up to monitor and oversee the initiatives in the strategy going forward.