York has one of the most extensive air quality monitoring networks in the UK outside London monitoring nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and other pollutants since 1999, and with NO2-specific monitoring at 340 locations*.Throughout 2015, NO2 concentrations have decreased at most of the monitoring stations in line with a steady downward trend.
In the Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) in the city centre, along Salisbury Terrace and in Fulford, NO2 and particulate matter levels are now fractionally lower than nationally-permitted levels which could remove certain areas of concern.
These lower levels have been achieved through a stream of initiatives driven by the council’s low emission strategies. The most recent Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP3), adopted in December 2015, sets out how York intends to continue to deliver its ambitious and pioneering strategy and to work towards becoming an internationally recognised ultra-low emission city.
The measures undertaken in 2015 to improve air quality include:
- Developing and implementing new guidance for developers to offset large-scale emission damage by providing on-site or off-site facilities and/or contributing towards low-emission measures in York
- Adopting a new taxi licensing policy with minimum emission standards for new or replacement taxis. Plus, offering a financial incentive is offered to York-based taxi drivers who trade in a conventionally-fuelled vehicle for a low emission alternative
- Continued expansion of the electric vehicle recharging network and the Go Ultra Low Emission City scheme.
- Continued partnership with York’s City Car Club to provide a pool of low emission cars for business use by council staff in addition to the council’s own electric pool car. This has significantly reduced staff using their own private vehicles and has helped cut emissions.
Additionally, other measures include securing funding for the ECO Stars fleet recognition scheme until May 2017: 66 local businesses are signed up to the scheme and the possibility of a local procurement standard for the vehicles used by, or to supply, council services is currently being investigated.
Work for 2016/17 to progress air quality includes:
- Following consultation with bus operators and others, a report will detail proposals to reduce emissions to support a Clean Air Zone (CAZ), an economic impact test, and details of funding and the impact of a CAZ on the environment and health
- Running an anti-idling campaign targeted at drivers
- Developing additional incentives for using low emission vehicles and alternative fuels
- Considering ways of working with building developers to reduce emissions
- Increasing awareness of the impact of air pollution on public health
- Continuing to expand the electric vehicle charging network and exploring the possibilities of Compressed Natural Gas refuelling stations and a freight transhipment centre. The council currently provides 30 recharging points in York with a further 20 privately owned charging points across the city.
- Attracting low emission industries, businesses and jobs to York by developing a green business hub and working towards developing of a freight transhipment centre.
Cllr Andrew Waller, Executive Member for the Environment, said: “While this report is very encouraging, we must continue working to improve air quality levels at key locations so that we can start to reduce the numbers of areas of the city under Air Quality Management Areas. The policy is to target the vehicles which cause a disproportionate amount of air pollution, and to encourage a switch to electric or hybrid vehicles.
“Our work has recently been recognised with a £816,000 award from the Office of Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) to fund a city-wide network ultra fast, reliable and convenient electric charging hubs. This follows £308,000 from DfT’s Clean Bus Technology Fund to retrofit 28 school buses used in around York with the latest exhaust emission reduction technology.”
The Decision Session takes place on Monday 5 September at West Offices from 5:30pm and is open to members of the public or is available to watch later online from: www.york.gov.uk/webcasts
To find out more about the report, or to attend, visit: http://democracy.york.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=870&MId=9369&Ver=4