Green light for Nottingham’s air quality plan

Green light for Nottingham’s air quality plan

Nottingham City Council’s plan to tackle air pollution in Nottingham city centre have been welcomed by the Freight Transport Asssociation. 

The council has been working with Defra and the Department for Transport over the past three years to identify measures to reduce levels of pollution in the shortest possible time and deliver compliance with legal air quality limits.

Nottingham is the first local authority to have their air quality plan approved as part of the Government’s wider £3.5bn plan to tackle harmful emissions from road transport across the country.

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.”

Nottingham’s plan will see the council improving air quality by retrofitting 171 buses with technology to reduce emissions, and changing the age and emissions policy for hackney carriages and supporting an increase in low emission taxis. In addition, the council received funding from the Government to support the conversion of its own fleet, including replacing heavy, high polluting vehicles such as bin lorries with electric vehicles. 

Welcoming the landmark move, the Freight Transport Association (FTA) said Clean Air Zones (CAZs) are not a one-size-fits-all solution to improving air quality and hopes other cities across the country will now take the same common-sense attitude to clean air policies.

Chris Yarsley, FTA’s Policy Manager for the Midlands, commented: “The logistics sector is committed to reducing its vehicle emissions wherever possible and takes this responsibility very seriously. Yet it’s important any air quality improvement scheme is designed with the unique needs of each place in mind – what works for one city may not be suitable for another –  and this result shows the authorities are listening and adapting. The decision to overturn the mandate that Nottingham must introduce a CAZ sets a welcome precedent that government will consider more tailored plans that reflect the needs of each community.”

Yarsley continued: “This is positive news for local businesses and those traveling through the city from further afield; commercial vehicles which not do meet Euro VI requirements will no longer be faced with heavy penalties for going about their daily work in Nottingham, as was originally laid out in the planned CAZ. These vehicles are an essential part of the city’s local economy – from delivering home shopping to providing businesses with the goods and services they need to operate – and it’s crucial their vital importance is recognised throughout air quality consultations. Nottingham’s plans will produce the same air quality improvements – if not more – without penalising hard-working vehicle operators.” 

Work continues on air quality plans in towns and cities across the rest of the UK. Final plans have also been received from Birmingham and Leeds, while 33 other local authorities are still working to develop theirs. 

Yarsley added: “Derby City Council is currently presenting its case against a CAZ, believing other solutions will deliver a better outcome in a quicker time frame without damaging its local economy. FTA calls on Defra to deliver the same answer to Derby as they did to Nottingham, and to decide on a case-by-case basis whether a CAZ truly is the best medicine to reducing a city’s pollution.”