Campaigners hit the streets to bring the Clean Air plight to our attention once more
We held a very successful day’s campaigning last Thursday, 21st June, for Clean Air Day with your councillors Denise (Guildhall), Andy and Dave (Fishergate) and many other YGP activists plus friends from local groups out on the streets with placards, “I walk/cycle for Clean Air” stickers for kids and leaflets.
In addition to actions at Rougier St and Gillygate (both traffic pollution hotspots in the city centre) Green councillors Craghill and D’Agorne spoke to the driver of one of the City Sightseeing York red tour buses which was idling in Exhibition Sq.
When challenged the driver said that the bus might not start again if he switched the diesel engine off and ‘in any case I will be leaving in 5 minutes’ The company have converted a number of their buses to electric operation, but Cllr D’Agorne said “vehicle registration no. V819ESC is still touring the city sending out plumes of diesel fumes when it sets off, despite prominently proclaiming the virtues of electric tour bus operation”
We know with the persistence of Greens on the council these actions can happen: we will have an all-electric Park and Ride fleet by Jan 2019.
June Tranmer, Guildhall Ward Green Party, is writing to First York and EYMS and York Pullman to say thank you for switching off.
There was a noticeable reduction in running engines on 21st June and beyond – don’t stop now please! Working towards being a ‘One Planet Council’, We need a Clean Air Zone for our city and our Green Party councillors and campaigners have been keeping up the pressure tirelessly for the policy on anti-idling signage at city centre bus stops to be implemented. This will remind bus drivers to switch off engines to help improve economy and air quality.
Worth noting that one driver June spoke to said he couldn’t turn off his engine because the battery would die … Replace the batteries so the bus drivers can switch off? (It was a number 66…)
Clean Air Zone Proposal – and consultation!
The council is proposing to introduce a Clean Air Zone (CAZ) which Green4Micklegate campaigner Rosie, collected over 600 signatures for in her petition last year. This will require any individual bus operating on a public local bus service, into the Clean Air Zone, five or more times per day to be ultra low emission bus standard.
The public’s survey went live on Clean Air Day.
Ultra low emission buses (ULEBs) are those that have no exhaust emissions (e.g. electric buses) or have significantly reduced pollution emissions such as Euro 6 diesel buses, gas powered and electric hybrid buses.
Local bus services make up 3% of the traffic but cause 27% of the main pollutants in York! Cllr Andrew Waller, Deputy leader of City of York Council and executive member for the environment, said: “Targeting buses which most frequently pass through the city centre would have the greatest impact on reducing harmful pollutants by forcing these to be electric or low emission vehicles.”
To find out more about which bus services could be affected, or for more background on this proposal, visit the council documents pages.
If you want to find out more about air quality in York visit www.jorair.co.uk
Local evidence gathering
Clean Air York is a new voluntary residents’ group and influential research is being done by Stockholm Environment Institute. York is in a good position to collect evidence of the dangerous levels of air pollution that affect vulnerable people and children especially. We have 8 official monitoring stations which the council can use to highlight the importance of action on air quality. Calendar-plots are already used to get a quick visual impression of the worst times for pollution. These show we should be looking at a greater effort to promote Park & Ride, especially once it goes all-electric: this could have a big impact. Late evening bus operation and discounts in association with city centre entertainment could be council funded on a trial.
Why we need to reduce air pollution
- We don’t always see it but air pollution harms our health.
- Evidence shows that spending time in areas with high levels of air pollution can worsen asthma symptoms, damage lung function and cause other health problems such as heart attacks, strokes and low birth weight.
- Ill health means time off work and school and a cost to the NHS and our economy.
- Poor air quality is also linked to about 40,000 early deaths in the UK every year.
- City of York Council has a legal duty to improve air quality to protect health.
What are they already doing?
City of York Council already has several long term policies in place to manage traffic levels and reduce pollution. These aim to: • Reduce the total number of vehicle trips – by encouraging walking, cycling and public transport use • Reduce taxi emissions – by mandating emissions standards for taxis operators • Increase electric vehicle take up by providing electric vehicle charging points, converting some buses from diesel to electric and transferring goods from HGVs to bicycles or lower emission vehicles • Limit further pollution – by encouraging low emission developments • Prevent unnecessary pollution by tackling vehicle idling • Lead by example – by reducing pollution from council vehicles City of York Council has already assisted bus operators to obtain grants for new electric Tour and Park & Ride buses. We now need to take further steps to reduce emissions from the rest of the local bus fleet.
Clean Air Day’s messages for how we can help ourselves are clear:
- Avoid exposure to air pollution
- Reducing your contribution to emissions and
- Talk about the issue with others!