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Sheffield Council set out bold plans for cleaner air

6 December 2017

Sheffield City Council is launching a new strategy to combat dangerous air.

The Council says it has no intention whatsoever to charge private car-users but will consider charging the largest and most polluting vehicles, such as buses, coaches, and lorries, as part of a study looking at options to bring down emissions in the city.

Sheffield is one of many cities across the country which is having to consider whether a ‘Clean Air Zone’ is needed.

The clean air strategy, set to be agreed by cabinet next week, will announce a number of measures to improve air quality including the introduction of anti-idling zones around schools. This comes after the council took action in recent years to move Tinsley School away from Its previous location next to the M1 motorway.

 Councillor Jack Scott, Cabinet Member for Transport and Sustainability at Sheffield City Council, said:  “Across the UK, air pollution is a public health emergency. Clean Air is a fundamental right for us all, but we face a significant threat from air pollution. The wide range of changes will help us to build a city for the many not the few, by making Sheffield healthier, easier to move around and grow our economy.”

Town Hall in Sheffield City Centre.

Town Hall in Sheffield City Centre.

“This strategy articulates a clear and compelling vision for cleaner air in Sheffield. I recognise some of the solutions to our air quality challenge may not be easy, cheap or popular – but they are required and they are right if we are to achieve our vision for the fairer city we want to build together.”

“Clean air is also an issue of fundamental fairness and basic social justice. It is the poorest and most vulnerable in our city – the very young and very old – who are most affected by dirty air. We are clear that greater equality and cleaner air go hand in hand.”

“Whilst the Council will do everything we can, the government continues to delay taking any meaningful intervention on improving air quality. Sheffield deserves better than this.

“There is not a tension between cleaner air and a growing economy. Polluted air is a major drain on Sheffield’s economy; currently costing around £200m every year. A city with clean air, an efficient public transport system, high levels of public travel and healthier citizens will have a stronger, fairer economy.”

There are approximately 450 buses operating within Sheffield, of which only nine per cent are currently Euro 6, the best version of engines. Although this is expected to rise to 18 per cent during 2018, it still demonstrates a significant challenge: buses operate throughout the day criss-crossing the city and the majority of the fleet falls below the emissions standards we wish to see.

The Council will work in partnership with bus companies to improve the bus fleet and reduce emissions through replacement low-emission buses or retrofitting vehicles with cleaner engine technology.

The Council will also roll out Anti-Idling Zones around schools and other sensitive locations from early 2018 and establish a 20mph speed limit across the city centre.

Meanwhile, the Sheffield Transport Vision, also set to be approved by cabinet next week before a consultation process in early 2018, looks at how the city’s transport network will meet the challenges from increased economic growth, demand and investment over the next 15 years.

The Vision will also look at how air quality can be improved by encouraging more journeys on public transport whilst preparing for the demands caused by an increase in the number of trips that people living, working and studying in Sheffield will make.

The Transport Vision outlines the transport challenges facing the city and options to improve how road space is used to address congestion, air quality and meeting the needs of a growing city.

This includes considering new park and ride schemes, interventions to speed up public transport and create safe, separate cycling networks for shorter journeys as part of further highway improvements. In addition to developing the vision, the council will continue to deliver and work up a number of existing schemes, to improve Sheffield’s transport network.