AMBITIOUS plans to improve air quality in Cambridge have been set out by Cambridge City Council in its proposed new Air Quality Action Plan.
The proposed plan, to be discussed at Environment Scrutiny Committee this week, sets out the council’s priorities in the next five years, for improving areas of poor air quality and maintaining areas of good air quality as Cambridge continues to grow.
The proposed actions to be taken under the plan, which will involve working closely with partners including Cambridgeshire County Council and the Greater Cambridge Partnership, fall into three main categories:
1. Reducing local traffic emissionsas quickly as possible to meet national objectives. Proposals in this area include:
- Lowering emissions from taxis by increasing the number of electric and petrol hybrid taxis through incentives and installation of more electrical vehicle charging points;
- Reducing bus and coach emissions by working with partners to invest in more environmentally-friendly vehicles;
- Reducing HGV emissions in the city centre by promoting ‘greener’ methods for making deliveries of goods, such as by cycle.
2. Maintaining levels of pollutantsbelow national objectives, including by using planning policies to ensure new communities are designed to make it easy for people to use sustainable modes of transport.
3. Improving public health - educating people about the health impacts of air quality and encouraging them to make changes to their lifestyles, including by shifting to more active modes of transport like walking and cycling.
If approved, the new Air Quality Action Plan will build on actions led by the council in previous years, which have included initiatives to:
- Lower pollution from buses and taxis by requiring better vehicle emission standards from operators;
- Introduce policies in the Local Plan to prevent worsening of air quality in the city centre;
- Provide electric vehicle charging points at two city centre car parks;
- Reduce emissions from homes through £5m investment in measures such as solid wall insulation and new boilers;
- Improve existing cycleways and providing more cycle lanes and pathways.
Cllr Rosy Moore, Executive Councillor for Environment and City Centre, said: “Exposure to air pollution can cause serious health problems, especially for some of our most vulnerable people.
“While levels of air quality in Cambridge have slowly improved overall in recent years according to official data, we need to do all we can to ensure this situation does not deteriorate as our population grows in the coming years, and demands for transport increase.
“This Air Quality Action Plan will give us the framework we need to do all we can to reduce harmful emissions, and ensure Cambridge continues to be a great place to live, work and study in.”
If approved at Environment Scrutiny Committee on 13 March, the Air Quality Action Plan 2018-23 will undergo a period of consultation, giving the public and interested parties the opportunity to comment on it.