An Air Quality Action Plan (or AQAP for short) is a plan that sets out the measures being taken to improve air quality in a specifc area and who is responsible for delivering them. City of York Council’s Air Quality Action Plan includes measures to help deliver our Low Emission Strategy, as well as continuing to encourage people to walk, cycle and use public transport.
Air Quality Action Planning in York
City of York Council has previously produced two Air Quality Action Plans (AQAPs) in 2004 and 2006 respectively. These previous plans were primarily modal shift and congestion reduction based plans, with emphasis on reducing vehicle trips across the city.
Despite the introduction of two AQAPs, air quality in York continued to deteriorate between 2004 and 2010. In response, York developed an overarching Low Emission Strategy (LES) in 2012 to tackle the issue. This document was the first of its kind in the UK and set out a new approach to local air quality management based on reducing emissions from all sources, including tailpipe emissions from individual vehicles and encouraging the uptake of alternative fuels and low emission vehicle technologies. The Low Emission Strategy has proved particularly effective at tackling emissions from essential service vehicles such as buses, taxis and HGVs, which fall outside the scope of trip reduction based modal shift measures.
Modal shift and congestion reduction measures remain fundamental to the delivery of air quality improvement and emission reduction in York. The primary local delivery programmes for these measures are the Local Transport Plan (LTP3) and the i-Travel York programme. These programmes include many measures to encourage the uptake of walking, cycling, and public transport in the city. They are supported by planning policies that ensure sustainable travel is embedded into all new development in York.
City of York Council’s third Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP3), adopted December 2015 , sets out how York intends to continue to deliver its ambitious and pioneering overarching Low Emission Strategy (LES) and to work towards becoming an internationally recognised ultra-low emission city. York’s overarching LES (October 2012) has already changed the way York delivers public transport and plans for future transport trips. Since the publication of the LES, York has:
- Delivered a new fully electric Park & Ride (P&R) site at Poppleton Bar and introduced electric buses at the existing Monks Cross Park & Ride site. As part of the new P&R contract, starting in early 2018, CYC has secured electric buses for three of the six P&R routes, with brand new Euro 6 diesel buses completing the fleet.
- Retrofitted the world’s first electric double-decker sightseeing bus. Transdev is currently working in partnership with City of York Council to convert a further five existing diesel vehicles to full electric drive. The buses are due to be completed by September 2017.
- Converted around 13% (figure correct as of April 2017) of the taxi fleet (~99 vehicles) to low emission alternatives (Euro 5+ hybrid or electric); most of these were converted through our innovative CYC taxi incentive grant scheme. We have also implemented a new taxi licensing policy, specifying minimum emission standards for new or replacement taxis.
- Implemented an extensive ‘pay as you go’ fast charge public electric vehicle recharging network in addition to 11 publicly accessible rapid chargers across the city. The number charging sessions per month is currently 1500 and is rising on as monthly basis (this figure includes charging session by electric buses).
- City of York Council has been awarded £816,000 from the Office of Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) after becoming the only Yorkshire location out of eight in the country to achieve ‘Go Ultra Low’ city status. The money will be used to fund a city-wide network of hubs, providing ultra fast, reliable and convenient electrical charging. The first ‘hyper-hubs’ are due to be installed in January 2018 (new ‘hyper’ speed standard). City of York Council is currently finalising the locations for the new hyper-hubs and evaluating options for ‘off-grid’ energy production.
- Developed Low Emission Planning guidance
- Taken part in National Clean Air Day and undertaken a campaign to promote anti-idling with bus operators, taxis, LGVs and private motorists.
At the same time, York continues to deliver on walking, cycling and public transport improvements, maintaining its national reputation as a leader in sustainable transport.
York already has much to celebrate in relation to reducing emissions and protecting and improving the health of its residents. However, with an increasing population and thriving local economy, preventing further emission growth and improving air quality remain significant and difficult challenges for the foreseeable future.
Measures in AQAP3 are intended to build upon (but not replace) the modal shift based measures included in previous AQAPs, and are intended to support other emission reduction measures in the Climate Change Framework and Action Plan (CCFAP) and the Local Transport Plan (LTP3).