Coventry seeks to address air pollution without a Clean Air Zone

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COVENTRY residents and businesses will be asked to give their views on a package of schemes which will enable reduction of NO2 levels without the need to introduce a charging Clean Air Zone.

The Zone would have affected all vehicles that do not meet certain emission standards and some cars and other types of vehicle would have faced a charge to drive into a large part of the city.

Cllr Jim O’Boyle said the ‘overwhelming views’ of local people and businesses was to reject a Clean Air Zone, and that the challenge now was to achieve NO2 reductions through a combination of behaviour change, cleaner vehicles and targeted junction and road layout improvements in areas where NO2 levels are above the legal limit.

Cllr O’Boyle said: “Local people did not want a Clean Air Zone.

“Our approach now is to work up schemes that directly target areas where Nitrogen Dioxide is particularly high.

“Behaviour change – encouraging walking, cycling and use of public transport and making it easier for people and businesses to own and operate electric vehicles – is very important.

“But it is also vital to be able to improve and manage the capacity on some routes. We want to discuss the schemes we have identified with residents.

“It’s important that we get feedback.”

Last month the government wrote to the City Council in support of local proposals which set out to reduce NO2 emissions without setting a specific Clean Air Zone

The government has also instructed Coventry to submit a final full business case for the package by 19 June which will contain final details on the schemes.

A consultation will now get underway to consider a combination of measures in the area around Holyhead Road, through Spon End from Hearsall Lane to Junction 7 of the Ring Road, and on Foleshill Road.

The consultation will include public drop-in sessions over the coming weeks so that local people can understand more details on the plans.

The consultation material will also be published on-line on the Council’s website, giving people the chance to respond using the on-line survey.

A consultation held in December 2018 found that residents and businesses were generally opposed to the idea of a charging Clean Air Zone and in favour of various highways and other measures to address NO2 emissions.

These measures are now being developed in more detail, with some schemes, such as closing Coundon Road at the level crossing, having been dropped as a result of the consultation feedback.

There are already a variety of other projects happening across the city to improve air pollution, including de-carbonising the bus fleet, installing a charge point network for electric vehicles, and schemes to allow taxi drivers and van drivers to try out electric vehicles.

The package of measures include highways engineering; improved traffic management; cycle routes; travel planning; upgrading bus fleet; supporting a shift to electric taxis; and encouraging the uptake of electric cars and installing more charging points.

The Council has been working closely with the government’s Joint Air Quality Unit throughout and the Council’s positions has consistently argued against a Clean Air Zone.

The Council will be consulting with local people between 16 March and 26 April about the package of measures.

These include:

  • Capacity improvements on the B4106 through Spon End and Junction 7 of the Ring Road, including improved routes for pedestrians and cyclists;
  • Opening Upper Hill Street onto the Ring Road, giving left in/left out access to the Ring Road via the anti-clockwise on-slip road at Junction 8;
  • Closure of Barras Lane between the A4114 Holyhead Road and Coundon Road/Upper Hill Street allowing the removal of the signals at the Barras Lane / Holyhead Road junction
  • Reducing the number of polluting vehicles by introducing restrictions on the eastern section of the A4114 Holyhead Road on the approach to Junction 8;
  • Construction of a segregated cycle route linking Coundon with the city centre along Coundon Road and Upper Hill Street;
  • Engagement initiative (travel planning) for schools, businesses and communities along Holyhead Road Corridor;
  • HGV ban on part of Foleshill Road;
  • Assigning electric buses to Foleshill Road.

Coventry has been awarded grant funding of £24.5m to implement the schemes.