Electrifying plan to improve air quality

PLANS to install 100 electric vehicle charging points across the city are among a series of measures being driven forward to improve air quality in Liverpool.

An update presented to the neighbourhoods select committee last night (Tuesday 7 November) reported that work is underway identifying council car parks, supermarkets, leisure centres and streets in areas such as the Baltic Triangle.

It follows a request from Mayor Joe Anderson earlier this year for the prioritisation of walking, cycling, electric vehicles and clean fuels in order to reduce the impact of air pollution on residents under an initiative known as ‘Breathe Liverpool’.

In Liverpool, particulate air pollution contributes to four percent of all deaths, and long term exposure contributes to heart diseases and stroke, lung cancer and respiratory diseases like asthma and chronic bronchitis.

The council is already planning to introduce a diesel-free fleet of council vehicles in the city centre by 2019 and across the city by 2024. They would be replaced by electric and compressed and natural gas vehicles.

New buses being introduced next year on the 26/27 Sheil Circular route in north Liverpool will be able to do 130 miles on one charge. 

In addition, a pilot scheme is being planned to encourage drivers to switch off idling engines near schools, as air pollution can reduce lung development in children and increase symptoms of asthma.

More positively, the city is no longer one of those identified by Government being over the statutory limit for Nitrogen Dioxide and recently dropped to 26 out of 50 local authorities for levels of Particulate Matter.

Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said: “Although the city has made great strides in reducing levels of sulphur dioxide over recent year, pollution from vehicle related emissions such as Nitrogen Dioxide and Particulate Matter is still too high.

“It is not good enough for us to be just below the worst as it still has a direct effect on the health of many residents and creates a huge cost for the NHS, which means it has to be a real priority.

“There is already a lot of good work going on delivered by partners such as Merseytravel, but we can support that by using our influence to deliver changes which will improve air quality.

“By 2025 I want the city to have developed a central heart where walking, cycling, electric vehicles and clean fuels will dominate.”

The council is also working with the Combined Authority to determine the costs of introducing a Clean Air Zone, which will be completed by March 2018.