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Cambridge City Council

Improving air quality

We want to reduce pollution from traffic and ensure air pollution levels continue to fall.

Our air quality action plan sets out our priorities for the next five years to improve areas of poor air quality and maintain good air quality in years to come.

The proposed actions fall into three main categories.

  • Reducing local traffic emissions as quickly as possible 
  • Maintaining levels of pollutants below national objectives
  • Improving public health by improving air quality in the future

Our priority plans are listed below. There is more detail on page 37 onwards of the action plan.

  • Lowering emissions from taxis by encouraging the change to low emission electric and petrol hybrid taxis in Cambridge through incentives, and the installation of more electric vehicle charging points for taxis

Work in this area is well underway. We have introduced fee reductions for low-emission taxis and licensing conditions to ensure that new taxis are low or ultra-low emission (for example, petrol hybrid or electric). We are already installing 18 rapid-charge points for taxis, so that the drivers can quickly charge their electric vehicles during their working day.

The Greater Cambridge Partnership is actively considering a clean air zone for Cambridge, which could restrict access to more polluting vehicles.

  • Reducing bus and coach emissions by working with partners to invest in more environmentally-friendly vehicles

Buses and heavy goods vehicles are the main source of air pollution in the city centre, so this area of work is very important. Development of a new Quality Bus Partnership is key – work on this will restart as the proposed GCP schemes are developed, including the potential clean air zone. These projects will be progressed by Cambridgeshire County Council and Greater Cambridge Partnership, with input from all partners.

  • Reducing heavy goods vehicle emissions in the city centre by promoting ‘greener’ methods for making deliveries of goods, such as by cycle or electric vehicles

A clean air zone could also drive emission improvements in heavy goods vehicles – other options to reduce the impact of heavy goods vehicles include setting up ‘last mile’ services or unified consolidation centres, as well as increasing the number of deliveries carried out by bikes, electric bikes and electric vehicles. This work is mostly being progressed by the Greater Cambridge Partnership and is in early stages.

  • Using planning policies to ensure new communities are designed to make it easy for people to use sustainable modes of transport.

This area of work is being developed. We would like to make it easier for people to use a bike or walk by improving cycleways and footpaths, by making sure that these are well designed in new developments. We would like to encourage the use of electric bikes, which means making sure that there are places to charge them.

The availability of a car club vehicle reduces the number of journeys made by car – provision of car club spaces can be required in larger developments. We also want to make it easier to charge an electric vehicle – we are being increasingly asked about charging facilities for cars.

  • Improving public health by providing information about the health impacts of air quality and encouraging everyone to have a more active lifestyle, including walking and cycling.

Our magazine, Cambridge Matters, is delivered to every household in Cambridge each quarter. An article on a topical aspect of air quality is included in each magazine. The county council’s Public Health team have started a series of workshops on air quality and public health, looking at ways to raise awareness for the public and for decision-makers.

Many of the measures in the air quality action plan will be carried out in partnership with the Greater Cambridge Partnership. These are larger infrastructure projects and the Greater Cambridge Partnership will consult on these as each measure comes forward.

There is a longer list of supplementary actions from page 49 onwards in the action plan.