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City’s air quality improvements on target

Published on 15 September 2015

LEICESTER is set to meet air quality targets sooner than predicted, according to the latest city council figures reported to Government.

The city council has published a detailed assessment of air quality monitoring from 2011 to 2014, which it is statutorily required to report to the Government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

It shows that Leicester is fully compliant with all current national air quality guidelines except for nitrogen dioxide (NO2).

European and national guidelines set a limit of 40micrograms of nitrogen dioxide per cubic metre (µg/m3).

Like other UK cities, Leicester currently exceeds this NO2 target in some areas. The latest available data, for 2014, shows significant improvements are already being made, with levels of NO2 at around 75 per cent of those recorded in 2010.

Defra’s latest predictions show that Leicester could now be compliant with these levels by as early as 2020, based on proposals outlined in the city council’s draft Air Quality Action Plan for the next ten years.

Over 170 people gave their views and ideas as part of a recent public consultation on the new action plan, which aims to further improve air quality in the coming years and reduce associated health problems, including respiratory diseases.

Proposals put forward for consideration in the consultation include the introduction of a low emission zone in the city centre, cleaner engine taxis, lobbying Government for more action to reduce polluting emissions from diesel vehicles and refitting more of the city’s buses with clean engine technology.

It will also aim to double the number of regular cyclists and introduce a freight consolidation depot on the edge of the city near to the M1. The aim is for deliveries on HGVs to be dropped off there and loaded onto smaller, less polluting vehicles to carry them on the last leg of the journey into the city centre.

Cllr Adam Clarke, Assistant City Mayor for energy and sustainability, said: “We are in a very good position to meet the challenge of achieving cleaner air in what is a vibrant, growing city. This can only be achieved through positive partnerships and backing from residents, businesses and other employers.

"I'm very pleased that responses to our recent consultation show strong support for a bold and ambitious Air Quality Action Plan that can only be of benefit to the city and those who live and work within it."

Leicester is compliant with national guidelines for all other stated pollutants. These include Benzene, 1,3-butadiene, carbon monoxide, lead, sulphur dioxide and PM10 particulates.

Air pollution occurs when the amount of certain pollutants exceed recommended levels based on their known effect on health.

Consultation feedback on the draft air quality action plan will be considered by the council's Economic Development, Transport and Tourism scrutiny commission at its meeting on Thursday 17 September.

The final plan is due to be adopted in November.