Our Senior Air Quality Consultant, James Browne, summaries the latest Air Quality news this month, including the latest stats for the Ultra Low Emission Zone, proposed Zero Emission Zone in London, and pollution considered as an occupational health hazard.
The Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) was introduced in Central London to improve air quality. Any vehicles and their drivers, including cars and vans, which do not meet ULEZ emissions standards must pay a daily charge to drive within the designated zone.
Since its implementation, early data has shown a sharp fall of around 26% in the number of polluting vehicles entering the zone. Due to the relatively short time period for which the ULEZ has been active for, it’s not possible for a reliable determination of the impact the ULEZ has had on air quality concentrations (Easter holidays and weather). However, based on vehicle compliance data, the early signs are promising.
The City of London has recently published its Draft Transport Strategy where proposal 29 details its intentions to introduce a Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ) ‘within the next mayoral term’.
The ZEZ will ensure that 90% of the vehicles entering the Square Mile are zero emission capable. It is envisaged that this is to be achieved through a combination of access restrictions and charging of non-zero emission capable vehicles.
The British Safety Council has advised that ambient air pollution should be recognised as an occupational health hazard. The potential harmful effects of long-term exposure to poor air quality on human health is not just limited to London.
Areas across the UK, selected cities, councils and local authorities have been instructed to either draw up plans for a Clean Air Zones (CAZ), tackle Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) levels or produce feasibility studies on whether a CAZ is required to reduce NO2 in the shortest possible time.
An integral part of this process is through consultations which have been held for the public to express their opinion. The recent consultation held by Newcastle, Gateshead and North Tyneside councils attracted over 19,000 responses which is more than what was received for London’s ULEZ and double that of the consultation for Leeds. This is an indication of how far up the public conscious that the impacts of air quality have now become.
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