City of York Council is backing the national Clean Air Day’s 2022 campaign, on 16 June, with its theme: ‘air pollution dirties every organ in the body’.
Every year air pollution causes up to 36,000 deaths in the UK. The World Health Organisation and the government recognise that air pollution is the largest environmental health risk faced today.
Poor air quality causes heart and lung diseases, is linked to low birth weight and children’s lung development and may even contribute to mental health issues.
Clean Air Day is running in tandem with the council’s hard-hitting Kick the Habit anti-idling campaign, which aims to reduce idling vehicle emissions.
Clean Air Day will give everyone ideas on how to avoid and reduce air pollution. For example, walking down a side street rather than a busy road can cut someone's exposure to pollution by 20% or more.
The council has embedded sustainable travel measures in its travel and planning policies. The latest Annual Air Quality Report for 2021, shows that the council’s actions - including its voluntary Clean Air Zone and the electrification of buses and taxis - helped reduce overall concentrations of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) in 2021.
This continues the long-term, downward trend of the past 10 years, with concentrations generally lower in 2021 than pre-pandemic levels in 2019.
Cllr Paula Widdowson, the council’s executive member for the environment and climate change, said:
We all have a role to play in improving York’s air quality, and Clean Air Day is a great opportunity to help spread this message, which has never been more important.
“I’m glad to see our recent work - such as securing funding for fully electric buses at our Park & Ride sites, introducing the first and only voluntary Clean Air Zone for buses, and our innovative taxi incentive scheme which has encouraged 30% of York’s taxis to switch to low emission vehicles. This is getting real results, with the support of the people and businesses of York.
“There’s more work to be done however, and our focus remains on reducing air pollution and creating a cleaner and healthier city for all.”
Cllr Andy D’Agorne, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Transport said:
Making the choice to walk cycle or scoot for short distance trips instead of driving has many positive benefits for your health and the environment. In addition to improving local air quality, walking is an easy and accessible way to improve physical and mental health for all those who are able to do so.
“If you have to drive, turning off your engine when parked or waiting at lights will save you money and help to reduce pollution on our streets and outside schools for everyone.”
The council’s iTravel website contains lots of ideas for healthy active travel, lists groups in and around York that organise led walks and provides information for schools about how to boost walking or cycling on the school run”
The council has produced a series of new cycle route videos, many of which are off-road and low-pollution routes
To find out how to protect your health and cut emissions visit the Clean Air Hub
Free resources to support Clean Air Day for schools, businesses and healthcare services are available on the Clean Air Day website
The council has also:
- secured funding to deliver fully electric buses and charging infrastructure at York’s Park & Ride sites.
- been awarded £8.4million in March 2022 through DfT’s ZEBRA fund to buy an additional 44 new electric buses
- been awarded an additional £17million in April 2022 to support the development of key schemes and initiatives in line with York’s Bus Service Improvement Plan, including wider electrification of the urban bus fleet to further reduce emissions
- introduced the UK’s first Clean Air Zone
- used a local taxi incentive scheme to encourage 30% of York taxis to change to low emission vehicles
- been awarded ‘Go Ultra Low’ city status by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) and implemented an extensive ‘pay as you go’ public electric vehicle recharging network
- agreed the transition to an electric fleet for all council vehicles under 3.5 tonnes as part of a 4-year programme
- developed Low Emission Planning Guidance to improve air quality, reduce exposure and lower transport emissions associated with new developments
- obtained DEFRA funding to carry out a feasibility study and subsequent pilot scheme to reduce emissions from deliveries