Air pollution in Leicester has reached the lowest levels since they started recording air quality 20 years ago, according to the city council’s own monitoring information.
Council figures, which were collected from five key monitoring stations across the city last year, reveal that the East Midlands city is now meeting all EU air quality objectives except for nitrogen dioxide (NO2).
However, average NO2 levels across Leicester have still reduced by 35% since 2010.
City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: ‘These latest figures are very encouraging and show that we have achieved huge improvements in air quality across the city in recent years.
‘As part of our Air Quality Action Plan we are making significant investment in a wide range of measures and working closely with interested partners in the city to improve air quality.’
The European and national guideline limit for NO2 levels in the air is currently set at 40 micrograms per cubic metre (µg/m3).
Average NO2 levels have improved at all five station locations since 2017, with two of the five – at Abbey Lane and Melton Road – staying below the EU limit.
Vaughans Way saw the largest reduction in NO2, with levels falling from 52.6µg/m3 to 45.3µg/m3 last year.
Levels of NO2 recorded at St Matthews Way and Glenhills Way also fell between 2017 and 2018, although they remain above the stated limit.
Leicester is now complying with national guidelines of all other currently stated pollutants including benzene, 1,3-butadiene, carbon monoxide, lead, and sulphur dioxide.
Leicester’s Deputy City Mayor Adam Clarke, its leader on environment and public health, welcomed the figures but admitted that the city must do more to bring the whole city within target limits.
Clarke said: ‘We remain absolutely committed to making further improvements by bringing forward ambitious plans for cleaner, greener buses and taxis, encouraging take-up of electric and hybrid cars and investing in infrastructure to help even more people to cycle safely in and around our city.
‘Air pollution harms people’s health, places a burden on the NHS and is bad for the economy. We are determined to continue to accelerate the improvements we have seen in recent years and achieve our aim of healthier air for Leicester.’
Leicester was recently given almost £8m by the Department of Transport to fund flagship transport schemes designed to improve the city’s air quality.
The £7.8m grant will allow Leicester to embark on two major transport projects, which are creating an extensive walking and cycling network and giving one of the city’s Park and Ride routes a new fleet of electric buses.
Just today, the government confirmed Leicester would be given £983,250 to help bring 53 of its buses up to lower emissions standards.
In 2018, the city was told by the High Court that it needed to address its illegal levels of air pollution.