Nottingham city council has been named today (22 November) as the first local authority to have its air quality plan approved by government ministers – confirming that a Clean Air Zone will not be introduced in the city.
The council’s plan centres on improving the performance of the city’s bus fleet through a retrofit programme, and addressing emissions from older, more polluting taxis. The council has also received funding to introduce cleaner vehicles across its own fleet, including in waste collection.
The city was one of five ordered by government to explore the need for a Clean Air Zone to meet legal limits for the emission of nitrogen dioxide, an air pollutant that is largely produced by road traffic sources.
Analysis of potential options, published in the summer, concluded that a Clean Air Zone would not be necessary as modelling has suggested measures including bus retrofits and stricter requirements for taxi drivers will bring it into compliance with the limit in a shorter timeframe.
Defra officials have now reached agreement on the plan with Nottingham city council, confirming that the city will not need to introduce a Clean Air Zone to meet its legal obligation.
Commenting today, Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey, said: “I am delighted to approve Nottingham city council’s new air quality plan. Air pollution is the top environmental risk to health in the UK and these government-funded plans will clean up the air in the city centre, protecting residents and visitors alike.
“The plans have been finalised thanks to hard work and collaboration – a brilliant example of what can be achieved when local and national government work together towards a common goal.
“We will continue to work with local authorities across the UK to improve the quality of the air we breathe.”
Councillor Sally Longford, Portfolio Holder for Energy and Environment at the city council, said: “We worked hard on a plan that would reduce air pollution in the shortest possible time for our citizens, and we’re thrilled this has now been agreed, along with nearly £1m funding for extra measures to support taxi drivers.
“We’re looking forward to progressing these schemes to clean up the city’s buses and taxis, building on our strong track record in improving air quality through investment in sustainable transport, such as the electric tram, our award-winning electric and biogas bus fleets and cycle network.
“Air pollution is a significant threat to public health today, and road transport emissions are a big part of that. We’re confident we can deliver our plan and go even further to improve the quality of the air in our city.”
Authorities including Birmingham and Leeds have also submitted final plans for consideration by government, both of which are considering implementing Clean Air Zones.
Defra is also expecting final proposals from Derby and Southampton in the coming months – with the former also favouring a non-CAZ approach and instead looking to traffic management measures to meet its requirements.
An additional 33 authorities are also working on plans to address exceedances of NO2 limits, with some also potentially exploring charging schemes.