Leeds City Council has welcomed today’s announcement by Defra (Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) of funding of £1.8m to help the city lay the groundwork for achieving its air quality targets.
This money is designed for investment in projects that will prepare the city for tackling its air quality issues. One key area the cash will support is the extension of a popular free parking scheme for Leeds residents for electric vehicles for a further two years.
Separate to this, the council has recently finished the first stage of its public consultation on ideas to tackle the air quality issues in the city. Proposals include introducing a Clean Air Zone that would charge buses, coaches, HGVs, taxis and private hire vehicles that fail to meet the latest emissions standards for entering it.
The consultation was launched after the government instructed the council to outline plans to tackle air pollution after identifying Leeds as being likely to fail legal air quality levels by 2020. Outdoor air pollution in the city comes primarily from vehicle exhaust fumes, and in particular from older diesel vehicles.
Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, Leeds City Council’s executive member for environment and sustainability, said:
“Today’s announcement is great news as we are absolutely committed to improving the air quality for everyone in our city and this funding will help support all the efforts already being undertaken to achieve that.
“Projects it can be applied to include improving the use of electric vehicles in the taxi and private hire sector as well as with small and medium businesses. It will also allow us to increase the electric charging network in the city. Other initiatives include providing better air quality information through our electronic road signage as well as signposting people to make the most of existing environmentally-friendly projects like car share and park and ride schemes.
“It will also support our school’s scooter scheme, and provide us with the opportunity to work with a further 30 schools to influence a sea-change in attitudes to how children make their daily journeys by offering environmentally-friendly alternatives. This reflects the reality that we need the whole city to get behind the effort: everyone in Leeds has their part to play in making our air clean for all.”
Detailed information about what Leeds City Council is already doing to tackle the issue can be found in this press release here.
Meanwhile, the £1.8m funding from Defra is broken down as follows:
- £409,817 for public awareness raising in the city such as variable signage for air quality data, permanent signage for anti-idling, promoting car sharing and other incentives and incentives to use public transport.
- £339,680 for charging points to increase the elective vehicle charging infrastructure as well as extending the ULEV free parking for two years.
- £151,291 for Scoot to School: working with 30 schools to increase active transport, including the provision of training and scooter storage as well as education on air quality through drama.
- £660,000 for ULEV uptake for SMEs: working with businesses to encourage a higher uptake of electric vans across the city. This will include the opportunity to trial vehicles, additional support for charge point infrastructure and detailed monitoring of current fleet.
- £299,200 for Electric Taxi Lease enabling the council to buy an electric taxi and private hire vehicles and lease them to drivers for short-term periods to allow them to see how the technology could work for them and to increase the use of electric in this sector.