County blamed as city centre lags behind on air quality

July 21, 2009 10:45 AM
Mike Pitt

Councillor Mike Pitt

Cambridge is seriously lagging behind other cities in improving its air quality and the blame has been laid firmly at the door of the Tory-run county council.

New figures out this week show that the county council has achieved no improvement in the levels of nitrogen dioxide pollution from buses.

A government report also says that the county council's Voluntary Bus Partnership "does very little to encourage the introduction of the very cleanest buses that are required to work towards the achievement of their air quality objectives."

It shows that Cambridge is lagging behind other cities such as Norwich, Winchester, Bath and Sheffield where local authorities are using far stronger means of regulation of bus emission standards.

"Bus emissions in the city need to fall by 50 per cent and this can only be achieved with a far more ambitious approach by the county council," says Mike Pitt, Cambridge City Executive Councillor for Environmental Services.

The county council is still introducing buses which were designed almost 10 years ago and some using the city's roads are considerably older.

The figures were put before the Cambridge Environment and Transport Joint Committee today (Monday).

Cllr Pitt added: "The county council has no excuses. It has clearly failed to address this issue, but instead has continued along the same path while other cities have led the way. There needs to be a radical change of policy now if we are to see bus emissions falling and our city becoming cleaner."

Cambridge City Executive Councillor for Climate Change and Growth, Sian Reid said: "The county council has settled on a standard of public transport which is outdated and polluting and clearly does nothing to address the problem of emissions. Today, however, it did agree to discuss the report's findings in the autumn."

Cambridge Environment and Transport Joint Committee Chair, Kevin Wilkins said: "This is a very serious issue bringing with it a major health risk and it is impacting on the quality of life for everyone living in and visiting the city. It should have been addressed long before now."

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