6 January 2014

Low emission zone proposed to improve air quality

Councillors will decide next week (14 January 2014) whether to introduce a low emission zone in the central Brighton & Hove bus corridor to improve air quality.

The proposed zone covers Castle Square, North Street and Western Road as far as Palmeira Square and would require buses entering the zone to meet minimum emission standards.

More than 95% of bus movements pass through the North Street/Western Road route and Brighton & Hove residents make more bus journeys than anywhere in the UK outside of London, so the benefits of cleaner emissions would be significant.

Councillor Pete West, chair of the environment, transport and sustainability committee, said: “Air pollution is well above both national and EU levels in some parts of the city and some areas have shown little sign of improvement in 10 years. This is mainly because of nitrogen dioxide emissions from road transport.

“It’s just not acceptable, and that is why we have been having fruitful discussions with bus companies who have been working with us to achieve better air quality. Through our bus partnership we have been able to collaborate with operators who are already investing in new technology to reduce emissions.

“Introducing a low emission zone would be a cost effective way of improving air quality citywide as the buses entering the zone would also be travelling to other parts of the city. It is the logical next step in developing the work already underway by bus operators in Brighton & Hove.”

Over the last few months Brighton & Hove City Council has been working with bus operators on the proposal. Discussions are also taking place with taxi operators on how to reduce emissions from their vehicles and that will continue through the Licensing Committee.

Delivery vehicles to smaller businesses and minibuses would not be affected as they visit the area less frequently and therefore have less impact on air quality. Most supermarket and larger store vehicles already have compliant vehicles. Private vehicles are restricted as this is a public transport corridor.

In October the council and the city’s largest bus operator Brighton & Hove Buses won government funding of £700k to retrofit vehicles to reduce the amount of air pollution they produce. The funding will be used to upgrade the engines of 50 buses to reduce emissions.

Emission standards for new heavy duty diesel and bus engines are set by the European Union. All new vehicles have to comply with the new standard.

The council would monitor the emission standard of buses in the zone to make sure they comply, liaising with them to resolve any difficulties. It would also monitor other types of vehicle using the low emission zone to assess their impact.

If agreed Brighton & Hove City Council will continue talking to public transport operators using the area and apply for formal approval from the Traffic Commissioner. The low emission zone is proposed to start from 1 January 2015

Further information

Oxford, Norwich and London all have low emission zones which set conditions on vehicles permitted to enter, such as ensuring vehicles meet the minimum standards for emissions and reducing engine idling whilst in the zone.

Read the reports for the Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee. The report about the low emission zone is agenda item number 68.