Liverpool city council is to press on with tackling congestion and enforcing bus lanes, but will not add the potential for being fined for breaching air quality to the authority’s ‘risk’ register.
A report given yesterday (April 18) to the environment and climate change select committee of Liverpool city council said that it is unlikely that local authorities across the UK will meet the NO2 EU air quality objectives by 2015.
And, the council report also says that the Department for Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) is trying to get the 2015 limits on PM10s deferred by the EU and that “to our knowledge, this will probably be successful.â€?
On the potential for fines to be levied by the European Union on the UK for breaching air quality regulations, this has “not been included on the Liverpool city council risk register to date because it is impossible to put any kind of figure on how much of any potential fine that Liverpool would be assignedâ€?.
The report has been given to the committee on an “informationâ€? basis. It explains that there are two pollutants that the UK as a whole if it fails to meet limits on these, could lead to fines being imposed by the EU. While Defra is suggesting the deadline extension for PM10s to the EU, and will probably be successful, the Liverpool report says that the 2015 target for the reduction of NO2, a primary and secondary pollutant, which comes mainly from transport as a secondary pollutant, is unlikely to be delayed although Defra would like it to be.
Referring back to the UK’s 9th Report on Air Quality produced by the Environment Audit Committee, the committee report says that the EAC study stated that “air quality has worsened across the UK and most of the wider EU in the past five years as the air quality benefits that were suggested through cleaner engines in newer vehicles has not been observed.â€?
The Liverpool document also refers to comments in the 9th report on fines and claims it stated that “it would be unfair for local authorities to have to pay any fines for several reasons: It is widely acknowledged that local authorities do not have tools to address the air quality issues at a local level. 58% of NO2 is not UK-derived and local authorities are being potentially punished for something they cannot control. Public transport is a major source of NO2, not regulated and hence it is difficult to encourage operators to change their fleet to newer lower polluting vehicles.â€?
And the committee report adds that with regard to deaths reported in 2008 as a result of poor air quality, the vast majority are due to particulate matter. In terms of action, the committee restates the aims of the updated 2009 Liverpool air quality action plan which has two main measures, both of which are aimed at reducing NOx emissions.
This includes stricter enforcement rules covering buses including strict guidelines on vehicle standards, Euro IV or better; ticketing, and monitoring and enforcement of bus lanes; and tackling congestion. But, a low emission zone for Liverpool is all but ruled out for the time being, partly on grounds of costs.