Worcester City Council to decide on air quality strategy

Worcester City Council will decide on its strategy to improve air quality in its city centre after plans to tackle air pollution were backed by councillors.

A meeting of the council’s licencing and environment health committee last week supported a report that recommended the council explore various options to tackle the city’s poor air quality, including drafting a Low Emission Strategy.

Options suggested in the report included considering the installation of electric vehicle charging points on residential streets and the introduction of an emission restriction on all the city’s licenced taxis.

Worcester City Council is already drafting an order to make its entire city centre an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) after several of its roads were recorded as exceeding national NO2 emission recommendations.

‘In order to demonstrate the council’s commitment to progress its Air Quality Action Plan, improve air quality and support potential funding bids to do this, it is recommended that a Low Emission Strategy is drafted and presented for potential adoption by the Council,’ the report read.

A task and finish group set up by the committee to look into air quality measures advised that aside from considering air quality impact in decisions such as car parking proposals, the council should look into procuring Ultra Low Emission Vehicles for pool cars.

In the case of an emission restriction on taxis, the council should consider impact on the local economy as well as air quality, the group advised.

It was recommended that ‘where appropriate’ the council could support funding bids from taxi drivers to help them acquire new vehicles.

However, the report warned that Worcester City Council’s financial situation at the time the strategy is implemented could affect the measures it could ultimately support.

‘A number of the potential elements of a final action plan come with a significant price tag,’ the report said as it weighed up the potential strategy’s financial implications.

‘Where there may be external funding available, particularly from Defra, to support these developments, regard must be had to the City Council’s financial position and whether activities can be supported in the long run.’

A representative of Worcester City Council said the council is committed to monitoring air pollution as the city looks to grow.

“We monitor air quality in Worcester on an ongoing basis,” says Cllr Roger Knight, vice chair of Worcester City Council’s licensing and environmental health committee.

“The city is prosperous and expanding, but we are determined to ensure that development does not have a detrimental impact on residents or the environment.”

The committee’s recommendations will now be reviewed by Worcestershire Regulatory Services and drafted into a strategy plan that the council will vote on at a later date.