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York consults on third Air Quality Action Plan

Proposals to improve air quality include a Clean Air Zone to cut bus emissions, a freight improvement plan and vehicle idling measures

City of York council has launched a six-week public consultation on its draft Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP), which includes 14 measures aimed at reducing transport emissions in the area.

According to the council, it is estimated that the equivalent of between 94 and 163 people die prematurely each year in York due to the impact of particulate air pollution, and “of particular concern” are emissions from buses, heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) and taxis.

York AQAP cover

York’s third AQAP includes proposals to introduce a Clean Air Zone to limit bus emissions

The council adds that removing all fine particulate air pollution in England and Wales would have a bigger impact on life expectancy than eliminating passive smoking of road traffic accidents.

As such, the city’s third AQAP includes 14 short term, medium term and ongoing measures, focusing on low emission and electric vehicles, public awareness campaigns an reducing pollution from taxis and council fleets.

Unveiled in October 2014, the AQAP also includes proposals for a ‘Clean Air Zone’ (CAZ) to regulate bus emissions in the city centre, although the council has said this is subject to further consultation with bus operators (see airqualitynews.com story).

Challenges

York councillor Dave Merrett, cabinet member for environmental services, planning and sustainability, said: “Poor air quality is one of greatest challenges currently faced by York and indeed the UK.

He added: “The new air quality action plan demonstrates how we can further reduce emissions in the city by utilising low emission vehicles and technologies. It is especially important to tackle diesel emissions. But, also some buses, HGVs and taxis – whilst providing essential services, unfortunately can contribute disproportionately to pollution levels in the city.

Councillor Merrett also highlighted the “excellent progress towards reducing emissions” from vehicles through the council’s introduction of rapid vehicle charging points (see airqualitynews.com story) and electric buses (see airqualitynews.com story).

York council has put forward a number of measures in its third AQAP

York council has put forward a number of measures in its third AQAP

He said: “Our third Air Quality Plan (AQAP3) will improve air quality, protect public health and also help us to meet Climate Change Act (2008) targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

Air quality is monitored by the council at more than 340 locations in the city, while there are currently three Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) in the city – York city centre, Fulford and Salisbury Terrace.

York councillor David Levene, cabinet member for transport, added: “We’ve been determined to improve York’s air quality and the city’s carbon footprint, and have been working with bus operators through York’s Quality Bus Partnership to achieve this.

“A feasibility study commissioned by the council and undertaken by Arup has shown around 80 per cent of York’s bus services could be operated using electric vehicles because they operate largely within the urban area, making it easy to provide recharging facilities. It is city of York council’s aspiration, therefore, to improve air quality in York by converting these services to electric power, the introduction of a Clean Air Zone will help us to make this a reality.”

Launched on Friday (November 21), the online consultation runs until January 2 2015 and the AQAP can be viewed on the city of York council website.

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