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Council set to invest over £1m in air quality improvement plans

Published on Friday, January 20, 2017

THE first phase of a three-year programme of investment in Leicester’s Air Quality Action plan – worth over £1.1m – has been announced.

Leicester City Council has approved the release of £220,000 for air quality improvement work to be carried out over the coming months.

Work to introduce a city centre low emission zone for buses is now well-advanced. This will be operated in agreement with local bus operators that could incur penalties if they run any vehicles that do not meet European emissions standards on city centre routes. Any revenue resulting from this would be reinvested into schemes contributing towards air quality improvements.

It is anticipated that the low emission zone will be in operation by the end of the year.

Research will also be carried out looking at how the number of freight movements across the city could be reduced.

This will include a detailed survey of goods vehicle routes into and around Leicester and an analysis of the likely economic and environmental benefits of proposed improvements, including the potential creation of a freight consolidation centre on the outskirts of the city.

A feasibility study looking at the potential future introduction of an ultra-low emission zone in the city centre is also set to begin.

Monitoring of air quality across the city will be further developed, with plans to link it more closely with other transport data and pilot the use of in-traffic air quality monitoring.

Money has also been set aside for the promotion of sustainable transport; work with local businesses to encourage uptake of ultra-low emission vehicles; and more projects within schools to increase the number of pupils walking and cycling.

Cllr Adam Clarke, Assistant City Mayor for energy and sustainability, said: "We are already making good progress in achieving cleaner, healthier air but we know that there is more that needs to be done.

“Our Air Quality Action Plan reflects the city’s aspirations for air quality improvements over the next ten years.

“We are now moving forward with these plans. We’ll see a low emission zone introduced around our city centre bus stations later this year, and work to encourage the take-up of low emission vehicles, and promote sustainable travel, is on-going.

“Proposals for an ultra-low emission zone and the possibility of a freight consolidation centre are still some way off. We will now be working alongside experts to more fully explore the potential economic and environmental impact of these proposals.

“With over £1milllion of investment earmarked to support the Air Quality Action Plan over the next three years, we remain absolutely committed to the goal of healthy air for Leicester.”

Annual funding of £370,000 has been earmarked to support Leicester’s Air Quality Action Plan in 2017/18 and 2018/19 as part of the council’s capital programme.

Earlier this year, £150,000 of air quality action plan support cash was allocated as match-funding for the creation of a new purpose-built cycle training track at New College. The cycle track project has successfully attracted funding of £400,000 from British Cycling.