Low emission zone ‘desirable’ in Leicester

City mayor states that an LEZ is “desirable, but not yet achievable” after public workshop on tackling air pollution in Leicester

Implementing a low emission zone in Leicester is “desirable, but not yet achievable”, according to the city’s mayor Peter Soulsby.

Following a public meeting to discuss possible measures to deal with air pollution in the city, the Mayor of Leicester said yesterday (July 22) that he would not rule out a low emission zone (LEZ) but that the council was currently working with bus operators to reduce emissions.

A University of Leicester heatmap image showing air pollution in the city

A University of Leicester heatmap image showing air pollution in the city

According to the city council, an LEZ was one of a number of options discussed, but it is “still considering the pros and cons of many different ideas for improving air quality in the city”.

LEZs of various kinds have been introduced in Oxford and Norwich, while Brighton city council also plans to introduce an LEZ in 2015 (see story). London, meanwhile, has the country’s largest LEZ and there are plans to implement an ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) in the capital by 2020.

And, commenting on a possible Leicester LEZ, the city’s mayor Peter Soulsby, said: “We wouldn’t rule out a low emission zone at some stage, but at the moment we’re focusing on working with bus operators to reduce emissions. A low emission zone is something that is desirable, but not yet achievable.”

The Mayor’s comments follow campaign group Healthy Air Leicester and Leicestershire’s call for an LEZ for buses in the city, as part of a national framework of LEZs to “ensure that vehicle standards are consistent across the country”.

Echoing comments made at a recent Parliamentary committee inquiry into UK air quality (see story), the campaign group said: “This would force bus operators to retrofit all their vehicles to reduce their emissions instead of reorganising them so that non- retrofitted vehicles only travel in areas not regulated by LEZs.”

According to Healthy Air Leicester and Leicestershire, proposals for the LEZ in Leicester would likely see it come into force from 2016 and cover the central part of the city, with only buses meeting Euro IV standards for emissions would be able to enter.

Hannah Wakley from Healthy Air Leicester and Leicestershire said: “Air pollution is a massive health problem: an estimated 250 people die prematurely in Leicester every year because of air pollution and many more are living with illnesses like asthma. Of course, the pollution doesn’t just come from buses and we hope that the council will also adopt traffic reduction measures, such as parking restrictions in residential areas and improved facilities for cyclists and pedestrians.”


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