A tale of two Capital Cities

This month I am going back to the old-fashioned way of writing a blog, doing it myself.

I was surprised how media attention for AI had increased exponentially over the last few weeks. I won’t take all the credit for this, and it seems that some sectors see the risk to humanity of AI similar to climate change!

Anyway, this month’s reflection is on the environmental work of two capital cities in the UK. London and Cardiff.

The first in Cardiff and the launch of a new hyperlocal air quality monitoring network. We at Vortex were very happy to be chosen to provide the monitors for the City Council.

47 of our Vortex Air monitors have been installed in the city and surrounding area, covering four air quality management areas and twenty-six schools.

We are seeing a step increase in school monitoring deployments across the UK, and I am looking forward to working with our clients and the local school children exploring the data our devices generate and helping them develop local solutions to reduce pollution around the schools.

Clean Air Day is coming up [Thursday 15 June], the UK’s largest air pollution campaign, and across Vortex and the Marston group we are working with our stakeholders to showcase the great work we are doing with our clients locally to reduce pollution, decarbonise neighbourhoods and improve public health.

The second case study this month is in London, and specifically the London Borough of Islington. As an inner London borough, they have a comprehensive environmentally based parking permit scheme based on engine size and C02 emissions. And a punitive diesel surcharge as one would expect taking an annual permit for the most polluting diesels up to nearly £1000.

It is however their approach to Electric Vehicle parking that is pretty innovative. Pretty much every council that charges for residential on street parking permits, there is a flat low fee for an EV. These have been around for a few years now incentivising residents to trade in old polluting vehicles.

There is however now a plethora of EV’s on the market from the fabulous looking Citroen Ami, a 2-seater retro looking car [i think it is technically a car] that only takes up half a parking space. To the electric Hummer supertruck [their marketing not mine] that goes 0-60 in 3 seconds and available with up to 1000 horsepower! Needless to say, these two vehicles have very different environmental credentials, from the pollution generated by their tyres and brakes to the impact of their manufacture, charging and efficiency. Not to mention the amount of space they take up in our towns and cities.  

Islington have come up with a pretty neat way of addressing this by introducing a parking permit pricing structure for EV vehicles based on seven different bands. The bands themselves are created using the battery size [in kwh] and permit prices increase the bigger the battery is, from £50 for the smallest EV cars [the Ami] to £140 for the largest [the Hummer].

Well done I say to Islington in trying to walk the narrow tightrope between encouraging electric mobility and discouraging larger vehicles. These schemes are important as we work towards developing pay-per-mile pricing solutions that really address the real environmental cost or owning and using a car.


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