Feature: Leading the way to cleaner air

Bradford Council explains how it is taking action to improve air quality for local communities through its new Clean Air Plan. 

Bradford council is leading the way to cleaner air through its new Clean Air Plan (CAP), developed to deliver an integrated approach to reducing road transport emissions of air pollutants and greenhouse gases and improving health in the Bradford District. 

Road transport emissions are a significant source of poor air quality and health in Bradford and are also one of the most challenging sectors in tackling greenhouse gas reductions. Against the background of the Covid-19 pandemic Bradford Council has developed an integrated Clean Air Plan (CAP) and is now delivering the measures that will see a step change in emission reductions and improvements in health.  

The CAP is required to achieve compliance with legal limits for air quality in the shortest possible timeframe as well as improving the health of Bradford residents and reducing road transport emissions of greenhouse gases. 

CAP development  

Bradford were served a ministerial direction in 2018 to develop a plan to improve air quality within the shortest possible time. The Council worked with the Joint Air Quality Unit (JAQU) to establish the most cost-effective way to achieve the primary success factor which was to meet legal compliance for nitrogen dioxide. 

Many different options were modelled including electric buses, park and ride, cycle lanes, an alternative energy centre, try before you buy for EV taxis and changes to domestic heating, however the Clean Air Zone (CAZ) was found to be the only option that had the ability to meet the objective of becoming compliant for nitrogen dioxide across widespread areas of exceedance in the City and the only option JAQU would agree to fund. A further ministerial direction was subsequently served in 2020 to implement a class C Clean Air Zone.  

Bradford Clean Air Zone (CAZ) 


In March 2021 Bradford Council approved the introduction of a class C + Clean Air Zone.  

Commercial vehicles entering the CAZ will face a daily charge if they don’t meet the required emission standards. Private cars and motorbikes will not be charged in the Bradford CAZ but may be charged in other areas of the UK.  

The CAZ should reduce Bradford’s NO2 levels by up to 35%, complying with legal limits and improving air quality in all wards. CO2-equivalent (CO2e) emissions will reduce by 147,000 tonnes over the life of the CAZ. 

The CAZ covers 22.4 km2 and 16 km of digital ducting has been prepared, including 6 new digital rings around the City,  over 200 enforcement cameras are now live.  

The Government has awarded the Council £39.3m to implement the CAZ, including Clean Air Funding to support local businesses to upgrade their vehicles to CAZ standard. This represents the highest funding award for a CAZ of this type in the UK. 

Bradford is keen to ensure local businesses can take advantage of the funding available, to date over 60% of Clean Air Funding has been allocated, including:  

  • Upgrade of the 3,300 strong taxi fleet that is now 84% petrol electric hybrid or electric, with the support of £4m of electric vehicle grants to achieve a 25% electric fleet. 
  • Upgrade of over 300 buses, ensuring all scheduled and tendered services meet CAZ standard. Evidence from the CAP is supporting the application for over 40 new electric buses in the District in 2023 through the Government Zero Emission Bus Fund (ZEBRA) 
  • Defrayment of £7.4m to assist businesses to upgrade over 20% of all lorries registered in the District 
  • Upgrade of up to 50 coaches in the District 
  • Over 2,000 grants applied for £4,500 to upgrade vans to CAZ standard. 

The CAZ businesses support schemes provided by the Council have been commended by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) and Road Haulage Association (RHA). 

Evaluating the CAP 

Bradford has recently extended its monitoring network to include 7 continuous monitoring stations and around 400 diffusion tube monitoring sites to help evaluate the impact of the CAP.  Further independent monitoring and evaluation is being undertaken by JAQU. 

Health Impact Assessment (HIA) 

Born in Bradford (BiB), the renowned research arm of Bradford NHS, is undertaking an assessment of the health impacts of the CAP, the only such HIA in the UK and described by the Government as a project of national significance. 

BiB received £1.1m NIHR/NHS Funding. Working with Bradford Council the project has collected baseline data to inform the success of the CAP in improving health, and is keeping track of the project as vehicles move across to cleaner alternatives via the support programmes. 

The project has an emphasis on community engagement and inclusion. Involving communities, especially the young, raises awareness in the next generation and inspires future scientists.  

The project has worked intensively with 12 schools in 2021 both inside and outside the CAZ. The children are recruited as air pollution scientist and are provided with equipment measuring pollution on their daily journey to school.  

The Council has also worked with partners to hold a creativity lab for local schools in 2021 where children were invited to find ‘solutions to pollution’. Following workshops at the schools an event was held at Bradford City Hall with BBC Look North in attendance. The event was hosted by Council Leader Susan Hinchcliffe and the children pitched their ideas to an expert panel.  

CAP Communications 

The Council has undertaken extensive publicity campaigns to promote the aims of the CAP and raise awareness of the CAZ, through various forms of media. Raising awareness of the health benefits of the CAP has cut through to the public and, unlike other authorities, the CAZ has retained widespread community support, with over 70% approval ratings. 

Bradford Council are committed to improving air quality and health in the District for everyone, residents, visitors and those who work here. We have been able to give the most generous grants in the UK and are looking forward to further clean growth in the City.  

Photos supplied by Bradford Council


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2 years ago

Excellent. I hopeother boroughs can do the same.

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