York’s Green councillors say that the council must have an increased urgency in tackling local air pollution, which is mostly produced from diesel engines. Four major cities including Paris have recently announced that they will be ‘diesel engine free’ by 2025 and England’s National Institute for Clinical Excellence* last week issued draft guidelines for councils to take more radical action to tackle air pollution.
Cllr Andy D’Agorne, who is proposing the Green motion to full council on Dec 15th has said “York has an impressive set of policies, based on the Third Air Quality Action Plan adopted in 2012, and is the only ‘Go ultra low’city in Yorkshire, but is still failing to deliver some key measures within the plan, meaning more deaths from respiratory disease and more asthma and stunted development of children’s lungs in the areas of worst pollution.”
Specifically the Green motion draws attention to the lack of progress on a freight transhipment plan to keep large diesel HGV’s out of the city centre and the failure to progress anti idling measures to tackle pollution from buses in places like Rougier St. Other measures that are in the council’s four year old plan but so far not progressing are specifying ultra low emission vehicle use in council contracts and designation of a ‘Clean Air Zone’ from 2018 applied to the most frequent bus services within the city centre.
The Green motion also highlights that the current illegal and dangerous levels of air pollution may not be removed if development envisaged in the draft Local Plan leads to growing diesel traffic and increased congestion. In order to ensure a higher priority for public health It calls for an annual ‘joint strategic report’ to Executive by the Director for Place Services and the Director of Public Health on the progress towards targets. And it wants the city-wide transport model in the Local Plan to include costings for a tram, light rail or guided busway system so that new development does not result in worse congestion and pollution in the future.
“Cost is always an issue, but dual carriageways don’t come cheap either, and yet are far more of a short term fix than a decent tram system would be” said Cllr D’Agorne. “Any such public transit system would help to make a new ‘garden village’ both viable and sustainable well into the future, as has been demonstrated in French and German cities of a comparable size” he added.
Please find below the full text of the Green Group motion to December Council.
Green Group Motion to Full Council, Dec. 2016
- That improving air quality is a key objective in the Council Plan and a matter of significant public concern;
- That recent data shows that between 94 and 163 people die prematurely in York each year due to the impacts of poor air quality (Local Air Quality Management Status Report 2016, City of York Council);
- That 50-70% of nitrogen dioxide pollution in York is from vehicle traffic, largely diesel vehicles and the annual average air quality objective for NO2 is still being breached at numerous locations around the inner ring road (Local Air Quality Management Status Report 2016, City of York Council)
- A report by the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health in Feb 2016 estimated that the adverse impact on public health caused by air pollution costs the UK economy more than £20bn per year – around 16% of the current annual NHS budget.
- The publication in December 2016 of draft guidelines by NICE (National Institute for Clinical Excellence) calling on local authorities to take a range of actions to reduce the impact of road traffic related pollution on health including putting air quality at the centre of Local Plans, introducing Clean Air Zones and reducing emissions from public transport.
Council further notes:
- That with the measures listed in York’s Third Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP3) in place, together with the emission reduction measures through modal shift included in the Third Local Transport Plan (LTP3), the health based national air quality objectives for NO2 would be met by 2021 in all the current air quality ‘technical breach’ areas in York.
- However, that while York has successfully secured ‘Go Ultra-Low City’ status and is making progress on establishing an electric charging network, there are significant actions identified in AQAP3 where a great deal still needs to be done to achieve targets. These include making tangible progress towards establishing a freight transhipment facility to keep delivery vehicles out of the city centre/urban areas, enforcement of anti-idling zones such as Rougier St, implementation of procurement requirements for council contracts, and firm plans for the establishment of a city centre Clean Air Zone by 2018.
- That the AQAP3 plan makes no strategic assessment of the likely growth in traffic by 2021 and beyond arising out of housing growth within the draft Local Plan.
- That the Council has a statutory public health responsibility to ‘improve the health of the local population’, with the overall management of air quality allocated to the Executive (section 3A, para. 2.1, no. 6 of the constitution).
Council therefore resolves to:
- Request an annual joint strategic report to Executive by the Director for Place Services and the Director of Public Health on the progress towards targets and further actions proposed for all the elements of the Third Air Quality Management Plan (AQAP3), including the proposed Clean Air Zone for public transport, the Low Emission Strategy and the elements of the Third Local Transport Plan which relate to improving air quality.
- Request a report to the Local Plan Working Group and Executive setting out how the emerging Local Plan will ensure that development does not detract from improvements in air quality in York. The completion of the city-wide transport model should include a cost/benefit analysis of the options for investment in a tram, light rail or guided bus way system to facilitate very low emission/zero carbon development, drawing on the experience of other cities in the UK and abroad.
Proposed by Cllr D’Agorne