Thursday, March 29, 2018

News: Air quality funding for Rotherham

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Rotherham and Sheffield are set to benefit from a £260m package to improve air quality that has recently been launched by the Government.

Rothbiz reported in 2017 that Rotherham (alongside Sheffield and Doncaster) is one of 38 English local authorities with one or more roads forecast persistently to exceed NO2 legal limits based on initial modelling. The local authorities have been charged with coming up with local plans for reducing air pollution or risk the Government imposing schemes to charge users of congested roads like the Parkway.

Sheffield and Rotherham Councils have announced that £2m will be invested from an "Early Measure Fund" to tackle air pollution.

The Government has launched a £220m Clean Air Fund to minimise the impact of local plans on individuals and businesses and more than £40m has been awarded to support local authorities take action as soon as possible to improve air quality.

Sheffield Council said it would fund the introduction of Public Electric Vehicle Charging Points, an electric Taxi leasing trial, junction signal improvements to tackle known congestion issues and funding for public engagement and campaigns, building on the existing Air Aware Sheffield campaign. The cleaner air from reduced exhaust emissions will be further enhanced by reduced traffic levels from more drivers on buses, cycles and other sustainable transport.

Later work will support the delivery of the measures which are likely to be recommended by the main feasibility study the two councils are currently undertaking to improve air quality in the shortest possible time.

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Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey said: "We have been clear that local leaders are best placed to develop innovative plans that rapidly meet the needs of their communities. Today's funding demonstrates the Government's commitment to support the local momentum needed and continue to improve our air now and for future generations.

"Improving air quality is about more than just tackling emissions from transport, so later this year we will publish a comprehensive Clean Air Strategy. This will set out how we will address all forms of air pollution, delivering cleaner air for the whole country."

Sheffield Council has made it clear that it has "no intention whatsoever to charge private car-users" and Cllr. Emma Hoddinott, cabinet member for community safety at Rotherham Council, said last year that it is "vehemently opposed" to charging road users to use the Parkway and Centenary Way.

Final plans on what measures can be introduced so that air quality limits are achieved within the shortest possible time are due by December 2018.

Last year, the Government published its Air Quality Plan for tackling nitrogen dioxide which includes measures to invest in road improvements to ease congestion, accelerate the uptake low-emission vehicles, retrofit technology to vehicles, promote cycling and walking and invest in bus services.

Last month, a legal challenge at the High Court saw a judge declare that the Government's plans to tackle illegal air pollution in England was "flawed" and "unlawful" after it failed to require action from dozens of local authorities with illegal levels of air pollution in England.

RMBC website

Images: Sheffield City Region LEP

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