Options Drawn Up to Boost Air Quality
Cabinet members in Newcastle-under-Lyme are to consider potential options for dealing with traffic-related pollution in the borough.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) requires the Council – and Stoke-on-Trent City Council - to reduce nitrogen dioxide levels and have set a challenging timetable for improvements.
The Borough Council is preparing an Air Quality Local Plan to deal with actions requested by DEFRA particularly in the A53 corridor around Basford Bank where pollution is a particular concern.
Options being discussed range from improvements in traffic flow through key junctions and better traffic light signalling through to the creation of an Etruria Valley Link Road and A500 upgrades or even work place parking levies to encourage use of public transport.
These options will be tested against the creation of a Clean Air Zone, where older, high polluting vehicles would be charged to come into the area.
Cllr. Trevor Johnson, Cabinet member at Newcastle-under-Lyme responsible for environment and recycling, said: “The Borough Council has serious concerns about how a Clean Air Zone or other levy could hit road users and the Leader of the Council has written to MP Paul Farrelly asking for his involvement and support in taking up the case with the Government and to actively lobby against any ‘charging Clean Air Zone’ on the A53 (Basford Bank area).
“We recognise that DEFRA has made it clear that our country has to take action when nitrogen dioxide emissions – mainly generated by vehicles on our roads – are at such levels that they pose a hazard to public health.
“This is clearly an issue in certain parts of our borough and also in neighbouring Stoke-on-Trent. What we have to do is come up with solutions which help us deal with a problem that can help with the health of our residents while at the same time not having huge impacts on people travelling around North Staffordshire for work, leisure and other commitments.”
Plans to improve air quality in North Staffordshire by supporting the use of “greener taxis” have already received backing from the Government which has awarded more than £780,000 to the Borough Council, Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Stafford Borough Council for the creation of up to 30 charge points for ultra-low emission taxis in the three areas.
The money from the Taxi Infrastructure Investment Fund will buy 10 rapid electric vehicle chargers for each area, resulting in an extensive network of charging infrastructure for cross boundary journeys and those between urban and rural areas.
Another project includes an engine retrofit scheme on buses travelling through Basford Bank, from Sandy Lane in Newcastle towards Festival Park, as part of a separate Ministerial Direction served on the Borough Council. This is one of the worst polluting routes and currently involves vehicles run by First Bus on its 3, 4 and 4a routes.
The borough and city councils must develop a preferred option by the end of October 2019 at the latest and this will be assessed by the Government.
A working group involving both councils has been set up to oversee action on tackling the air quality project.
Last updated 7 March 2019