Liverpool finds a different ‘route’ to clean air

Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet have green lit plans to improve air quality across the city by committing to quicker and more impactful alternatives to a charging zone.

As part of Liverpool’s Clean Air Plan, the council has now moved away from a charging model, which would have seen drivers of non-compliant vehicles pay to drive in certain parts of the city.

Back in 2018, Liverpool City Council was instructed by the Government to produce a Clean Air Plan (CAP) and its aim was to look at how air quality could be improved regarding levels of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) – all in ‘the shortest possible time’. Air quality monitoring and computer transport modelling has since forecasted nine stretches of road in Liverpool which would exceed the required NO2 value of 40.45 ug/m3  in 2023.

As part of producing the CAP, Liverpool and all other mandated local authorities were required to look at a charging Clean Air Zone (CAZ) – as it was believed this would bring forward air quality compliance quicker than any other option.

Despite extensive modelling of different sizes and categories of a Liverpool CAZ, none addressed all the forecast exceedances. The recent experience of the Greater Manchester charging CAZ, highlighted concerns that the effectiveness of a CAZ could be significantly impacted by fleet upgrade delays and affordability issues for residents and businesses – which have all been worsened by the current economic climate.

Due to the same factors being relevant to Liverpool, it became clear that the roll out of any charging scheme could not happen ahead of 2025 – by which time, Liverpool would have only one remaining exceedance – relating to volume of traffic and the closeness of the buildings, rather than the cleanliness of vehicles, so wouldn’t be resolved by a charging zone.

Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Environment, Cllr Daniel Barrington said “Air Quality is a really important issue for us, and one we all take seriously – as it makes Liverpool a better place to live, work, do business and spend our leisure time.

It’s vital that we see improvements to air quality, and I want us to do this in the quickest way possible – keeping us on track for making Liverpool a Net Zero Carbon city by 2030.

We are now looking at more ambitious and focused measures across 2023/24 which could be rolled out more quickly and effectively than a charging CAZ.”

Karen Agbabiaka, Interim Chief Highways Officer said “Transport and Air Quality modelling  has shown that a number of different interventions, such as traffic signalling changes, bus stop optimisation and idling enforcement could be all be implemented ahead of the 2025 deadline and provide more impact.

Analysis of the data also suggests that on stretch of road in the city that has the highest exceedance could be over forecast, and as such we are collecting more information for that specific location to fully understand the scale of the problem to be solved with an appropriate and refined measure.”

As part of the development of the council’s Clean Air Plan, key stakeholders including residents, businesses and taxis were asked to provide feedback on how a charging zone would impact on them.

With the Clean Air Plan now approved by Cabinet, the outline business case will go to Government next month for their approval, ahead of a full business case being submitted in January 2023.

Learn more about Liverpool’s Clean Air Plan at letscleartheairliverpool.co.uk

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