16 March 2018

Air quality gets priority

A group of high level city council officers tasked with cleaning up air quality throughout the city will deliver their first report next week.

The Air Quality Programme Board will oversee the council's work with bus companies and other organisations to make sure people within Brighton & Hove are breathing cleaner, healthier air.

The council has already developed a number of successful strategies to cut air pollution, including securing government funding to fit 76 buses and 22 taxis with clean air technology and introducing a low emissions zone (LEZ) in the city centre that covers 98 per cent of bus movements.

It has also taken steps to address emissions from its own vehicles by buying only low-emission vans and lorries, introducing fuel efficient analysis systems and conducting driver training on fuel-efficiency.

In its report, being discussed at next Tuesday’s environment, transport and sustainability committee, the board highlights how it is now looking at ways to expand the LEZ, place tighter restrictions on vehicle emissions including taxis, and introduce the city’s first Clean Air Zone (CAZ) to improve air quality in a specific area.

The report also explains how the board is exploring the potential for a city-wide roll out of electric vehicle charging points to encourage a wider take up of pollution-busting electric-powered cars.

Cllr Gill Mitchell, the committee’s chair, said: “Air pollution is now recognised as the UK’s largest environmental risk to public health, contributing to heart and respiratory diseases, and lung cancer.

“The setting up of the Air Quality Programme Board is a very important step in the council playing a leading role in creating a single, joined-up approach to cutting air pollution in our city and improving air quality.

“A lot of work has already been done in partnership with the bus companies through the Quality Bus Partnership (QBP) and we look forward to working with them even closer in the future.”

Cllr Mitchell said there were many other factors involved in providing better air quality, such as supporting low emission public transport and improving busy junctions like the Clock Tower in Brighton.

But she added: “The Clock Tower has the highest pedestrian movement in the city and needs to achieve the right balance of pedestrian safety against traffic.

“However, we will be looking at this junction as part of the improvements to Queens Road and West Street, known as the Gateway to the Sea project.”