The new Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey visited Derby to see the city’s work to introduce a Clean Air Zone (CAZ) and improve air quality for residents and visitors.

The visit follows the publication of the Government’s Air Quality Plan for nitrogen dioxide which sets out an approach for meeting legal air quality limits, including a new programme of Clean Air Zones in five cities in England – Derby, Birmingham, Leeds, Nottingham and Southampton – by 2020. Derby is the first one of these cities that the Minister has visited.

Clean Air Zones will focus on reducing emissions from old diesel buses, coaches, taxis and lorries.  Following a meeting with Derby City Council officials, Dr Coffey visited various locations across the city, including electric vehicle charging points, areas of exceedance that have been identified by the Government in the city,  and the bus station to see some of the new Euro VI compliant vehicles that have already been introduced to bus operators’ fleets.

Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey said:

“It is great to see first-hand how Derby is playing its part in the national plan to tackle air pollution with a Clean Air Zone which will improve the quality of life for people who live and work here.

“I’m pleased to meet the Derby City Council team and discuss how we can make this new zone a success for the people of this great city – building on how we are already working together on new measures to improve air quality.”

Councillor Banwait said

“This is a good opportunity to discuss introducing a Clean Air Zone and to address some of our concerns that I recently raised in a letter to the Minister. We need to make sure that any option selected for a Clean Air Zone does not impact adversely on local services and the plans must help improve people’s quality of life. It must also be capable of being realistically deliverable before the deadline of December 2019”.

In addition we are conscious that public transport is viewed positively and is seen as part of the solution to any air quality issues.  We have therefore arranged for the minister to meet with Derby’s two largest public transport providers, as they will need to convert a significant proportion of their respective bus fleets to cleaner vehicles which comply fully with the requirements of the Clean Air Zone.”

Council Cabinet recently approved an application to the Government’s Joint Air Quality Unit (Department of Environment Food & Rural Affairs & Department of Transport) for £328,810 funding; to cover a scoping study which will look at the options and requirements for a Clean Air Zone in Derby. The bid for the scoping study covers the evidence collection for baseline air quality and transport data, air quality modelling and scoping of a number of potential options.  The work will support the Council in better understanding any local air quality issues and will help inform any future decisions regarding the required Clean Air Zone and other interventions in Derby.

Today the Government also launched this year’s Air Quality Grant with at least £3m available to help councils like Derby deliver projects to improve air quality for residents.

Over the next year, the Council will begin discussions with stakeholders, so they fully understand the potential implications and impact of the government requirement for a Clean Air Zone within the city.