Air quality improvements in key city centre routes

Air quality on some of the busiest routes in Brighton & Hove is improving, our latest figures show.

Data collected citywide show that Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) levels have fallen by around a third in the last ten years.  But there have been bigger NO2 reductions in several key areas, including from the city’s six Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) for example:

  • 60% reduction on North Street, a busy area for shopping
  • 50% reduction on the west side of the A23 through Valley Gardens
  • 50% reduction on Eastern Road, near the Royal Sussex County Hospital
  • 43% reduction on the A23 southbound through Preston Circus
  • 40% reduction on Sackville Road

More data can be found in our 2022 Air Quality Annual Status Report (ASR) and Air Quality Action Plan

Cleaner buses driving down toxic emissions

One of the big reasons for the reduction in NO2 in these key areas has been cleaner diesel and hybrid buses.

The introduction of an Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) between Castle Square and Palmeira Square meant that local bus companies were required to reduce the NO2 emissions of their vehicles, following previous improvements in particles from the exhaust.

More than 95% of all bus movements in the city pass through this zone.

Since 2014, 114 double deck buses or minibuses have had their exhausts upgraded to meet higher emissions standards. A further 52 buses are scheduled to be upgraded by April 2023.

Brighton & Hove Buses have also invested almost £18 million on 54 hybrid buses which are powered by a battery when travelling through the city centre.  

Commercial Director of Brighton & Hove Bus and Coach Company, Nick Hill said: 'We've been working incredibly hard with Brighton & Hove City Council to improve air quality in the city and it's great to see that through partnership working we are making a positive difference. 

“Not only have we introduced 54 Enviro 400 extended range electric buses that are emissions free in the Ultra-Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) through the heart of the city, we also continue to upgrade existing vehicles to the highest standards, with all buses meeting the Euro 6 standard during 2023. 

“Buses account for around 4% of roadside emissions so the real challenge is getting people out of their cars. 

“To continue to support this, we've added new messaging to our buses and invested heavily in campaigns that encourage people to travel more sustainably and help improve the air we breathe.”

An ambitious plan for further improvements

Last month, members of the Environment, Transport and Sustainability committee approved our Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) which sets out more than 60 actions for improving air quality in Brighton & Hove.

The AQAP also includes our own ambitious targets which go beyond meeting the UK minimum requirements for reducing NO2 levels and airborne particles in the air we breathe.

The 60 actions fall under 5 headings

  1. Increase active travel, support mode shift including greater emphasis on public transport and reduce the need to travel.
  2. Encourage and support uptake of ultra-low and zero exhaust vehicles
  3. Improve monitoring and public awareness
  4. Reduce emissions from buildings and new development
  5. Partnership working

A good start with more work to come

Councillor Steve Davis, Co-Chair of the Environment, Transport and Sustainability committee said: “These figures show some excellent progress in improving air quality in key areas of the city, but we know there is still work to be done.

“We’ve shown that by working in partnership with local bus operators, we can reduce harmful emissions without impacting on the quality of services for our residents and visitors.

“I was very happy to see our Air Quality Action Plan approved at committee last month which I’m sure will deliver on its targets for further air quality improvements over the next five years and beyond.

“Air pollution is a huge cause of premature death in the UK and we need to do everything possible to improve the quality of the air we all breathe.” 

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