York hails 30% reduction in NO2

York is the latest UK city to hail improvements in air quality since coronavirus lockdown began, with average levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) falling by 30%.

Analysis by University of York and Ricardo air quality expert Dr David Carslaw shows that pollution hotspots in the city such as Fishergate (43%), Holgate Road (32%) and Fulford Road have dropped significantly.

The data reflects the wider picture across the UK with cars being left in garages and driveways as workers stay at home. Yesterday, the Mayor of London reported levels of NO2 falling by almost 50% in some of the capital’s busiest thoroughfares.

York also relies heavily on tourism, which is a sector that has been hit hard by the instructions to stay at home.

The drops in pollution could be a shape of things to come in York as Air Quality News found out when we travelled to the medieval city to meet Labour Cllr Jonny Crawshaw. He wants to ban all ‘non-essential’ car journeys from the city centre by 2023. Read that interview here.

Cllr Paula Widdowson, the council’s executive member for the environment and climate change, said: ‘We all have a responsibility to improve York’s air quality and this is an issue we have prioritised here in York, from launching the UK’s first voluntary Clean Air Zone, to investing in electric charging points across the city.

‘Of course, the impact of the Coronavirus lockdown has had a significant impact on air quality in the city, as many have stuck to the Government’s social distancing guidance.  However, the council has invested in a number of measures in recent years to help improve air quality in York, and we will continue to do so for the benefit of our communities.’

David Carslaw added: ‘This analysis is a first look at some potential changes in air pollution due to COVID-19.

‘As more data becomes available, the robustness of these estimated changes should increase. However, it is already clear that there has been a dramatic and mostly consistent decrease in poor air quality (NOx) across a wide range of sites, including York.’


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