Public sector organisations including local authorities and the NHS should consider switching to electric or hybrid vehicles as part of efforts to tackle air pollution, guidance issued today (21 September) has suggested.
The recommendations come in new draft quality standard guidance from NICE (the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) on Air Pollution: outdoor air quality and health published this morning.
NICE – a government funded health advice agency – also suggests that planners should identify in local plans how they will address air pollution, including enabling zero and low-emission travel and how to design buildings and spaces to improve air quality.
A consultation on the draft guidance runs until 19 October, with the final standard expected to be published in February 2019.
Other recommendations include issuing advice to people in vulnerable groups attending a health appointment – when air pollution is high or very high – on how to minimise their exposure and manage their symptoms.
Training drivers in techniques such as smooth acceleration and braking, not over-revving engines, efficient gear changing, no idling when parked or making a delivery and ensuring tyres are inflated to the correct level can help to improve fuel efficiency and cut emissions, the guidance suggests.
Applications for major developments should be scrutinised by local planners to minimise and mitigate road-traffic-related air pollution, NICE concludes.
Commenting on the guidance, Professor Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive and director of health and social care at NICE, said: “The public sector has a key role to play in reducing the emissions from its vehicle fleet. Promoting an efficient driving style can not only reduce the amount of air pollutants from vehicles but also save money through reduced fuel consumption.
“Organisations should make low vehicle emissions one of the key criteria when making routine procurement decisions. This could include selecting low-emission vehicles, including electric vehicles.
“Lowering road-traffic-related air pollution will help reduce the significant financial costs currently incurred by the NHS through treating related illnesses.â€?
The organisation has previously issued similar guidance covering traffic related emissions, advocating the introduction of no-idling and Clean Air Zones, and calling for councils to be given additional powers to tackle emissions near schools and care homes (see airqualitynews.com story).