Leeds City Council statement in response to European Commission ‘final warning’ on air quality in 16 areas of the UK

Leeds, Leeds Star

Deputy leader of Leeds City Council and executive member for environment and sustainability Councillor Lucinda Yeadon said:

“The air quality issue is one we are taking very seriously in Leeds and we have developed a strategy which includes a range of measures being implemented in the city to improve air quality and reduce emissions. This includes developing compressed natural gas infrastructure for vehicles to use in the city and agreeing a major commitment from bus provider First to invest more than £70million in a new fleet of low-emission vehicles in Leeds by the end of 2020.

“Together with several other major UK cities, Leeds signed a letter last week which called on the Prime Minister and the government to do much more on this issue, including supporting local authorities by devolving funding and powers and introducing new legislation around the regulation of all types of emissions sources, alongside aligning key priorities with the introduction of Clean Air Zones so we can tackle this together head-on.”

Elements of the Leeds strategy include:

  • Focus on encouraging greater use of public transport with major investments in bus and rail infrastructure including three new rail stations and additional park and ride facilities as part of new £270m transport strategy outlined in December 2016.
  • Operator First West Yorkshire has pledged to invest £71m to provide 284 new state-of-the-art low-emission buses for its Leeds fleet by the end of 2020 as part of the new strategy, supporting the aim of improving air quality across the city.
  • We are also encouraging alternatives to car use, including phase one of the new Cycle Superhighway through the city which is now open and plans for phase two being developed
  • Developing Compressed Natural Gas infrastructure for the city which will enable our own fleet (including refuse vehicles) to switch to CNG as well as helping commercial fleet operators to do the same.
  • Increasing the number of electric vehicles in the council’s fleet with almost 50 electric vehicles having been purchased in 2016 alone.
  • Offering a free parking permit to those with Ultra Low Emissions Vehicles. This was introduced last year and has recently been extended to March 2018.
  • In terms of communicating with the public, we are establishing our ‘Clean Air Leeds’ campaign on social media channels whilst we complete market research on public attitudes and behaviours, which will direct the key messages of this behaviour change campaign.
  • Engaging with businesses via one-to-one briefings with a specialist consultant. We want businesses to pledge to do their bit to improve air quality in Leeds through raising awareness, encouraging sustainable travel in the workplace, reducing the emissions of their supply chains and considering government grants for EV workplace charge points.
  • The council has jointly applied for regional funding for a network of Electric Vehicle chargepoints across West Yorkshire. If successful, this will deliver a network of electric vehicle charge points across the West Yorkshire region for use by the taxi and private hire trade.
  • The council has been installing extra monitoring equipment to get a more accurate picture of air quality in the city. The council has published data as can be seen at http://www.leeds.gov.uk/Business/Pages/Air-quality.aspx but is looking at how we can make it more accessible and useful to the public in the future.