By Suzannah Murphy
Following the decision against implementing a ‘Clean Air Zone’, Cardiff Council have instead decided on various alternative measures, costing £32 million, to reduce air pollution in the centre. Whether this project goes ahead is dependent on whether the Welsh Government approves funding.
Cardiff Council provided no explanation on why they have decided against a Clean Air Zone. Critics, such as Joseph Carter, the Chair of Healthy Air Cymru expressed his disappointment.
“Charging polluting vehicles to enter cities is recognised as being the most effective means of reducing transport emissions”, he said.
The NO2 Levels in Castle Street are supposedly likely to breach the EU legal limits, an independent survey commission found. Cardiff’s current level of the pollutant, Nitrogen dioxide, is 38.3 micrograms per cubic meter, which is alarmingly close to the legal limit of 40 micrograms.
The measures, backed by Cardiff Council, are outlined within a two-year programme. These include replacing the oldest and most polluting buses with electric buses (£1.8 million), and upgrading older buses to meet the Euro 6 engine emission standard costing (£1.4 million).
They also suggested major changes to Castle Street and Westgate Street in the centre to allow for a more efficient movement of public transport, and subsequently increasing the active travel (such as cycling and walking) capacity in the centre (£18.9 million).
The council also backed a taxi policy renewal, whereby, licences are only approved for new vehicles or for changing vehicles (but under the same licence) for vehicles which adhere to the latest Euro 6 emission standards (£5.5 million). They were also for improvements to Active Travel and increased 20mph areas (£4.5 million).
The Euro 6 emissions standards, set by the EU, are the latest requirements aimed at reducing harmful pollutants from exhausts.
Despite the decision not to implement a Clean Air Zone in Cardiff’s city centre, these measures are a step forward to tackling a life threatening issue. It has been reported that in Cardiff, 143 deaths a year are caused by air pollution. As a result air pollution in general is costing the UK Government £20 billion a year.