It is the first local authority to have its air quality plan approved as part of the government’s wider £3.5 billion programme to reduce harmful emissions from road transport across the UK.
The plan includes the retrofit of 171 buses with technology to reduce emissions as well as changing the age and emissions policy for hackney carriages and supporting an increase in low emission taxis.
A £1 million government fund will provide a licensing discount for drivers, a taxi rank with charging points, home chargers and help expand the council’s ‘try before you buy’ scheme which started this week.
Nottingham City Council has also received funding to support the conversion of its own fleet, including replacing heavy, high polluting vehicles such as bin lorries with electric vehicles (EVs).
The council worked with officials from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Department for Transport (DfT) for the past three years to identify measures to reduce levels of pollution “in the shortest possible time” and deliver compliance with legal air quality limits.
Councillor Sally Longford, Portfolio Holder for Energy and Environment said: “We worked hard on a plan that would reduce air pollution in the shortest possible time for our citizens and we’re thrilled this has now been agreed, along with nearly £1m funding for extra measures to support taxi drivers.
“We’re looking forward to progressing these schemes to clean up the city’s buses and taxis, building on our strong track record in improving air quality through investment in sustainable transport, such as the electric tram, our award-winning electric and cycle network. Air pollution is a significant threat to public health today, and road transport emissions are a big part of that. We’re confident we can deliver our plan and go even further to improve the quality of the air in our city.”
While Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) levels have fallen significantly in recent decades, including a 27% drop since 2010, the UK Plan for Tackling Roadside Nitrogen Dioxide Concentrations outlines how councils with the worst levels of air pollution at busy road junctions and hotspots must take action.
Due to the highly localised nature of the problem, local knowledge is crucial in solving pollution problems in these hotspots.
Work continues on air quality plans in towns and cities across the rest of the UK. Final plans have also been received from Birmingham and Leeds, while 33 other local authorities are still working to develop theirs. Once their plans are finalised and approved by Defra and DfT ministers, the government will ensure enough funding is in place for the agreed measures.