City of York Council has taken forward a number of direct measures in the last 12-18 months in pursuit of improving local air quality.
Key completed measures and progress in the last 12-18 months include:
- Clean Air Zone (CAZ) – on 31st Jan 2020 York became the first city in the country to roll out a voluntary CAZ for buses. Buses making 5 or more entrances to the CAZ per day are now required to be Ultra Low Emission Buses (ULEB) (Euro VI diesel or electric).
- Expansion of zero emission York Park and Ride fleet – as part of a partnership between First York and CYC, the first of 21 new all-electric double decker buses entered service on the York Park & Ride network in July 2020. Further Metrodecker EVs, manufactured by Optare in Yorkshire, have now been brought into operation and replace existing diesel vehicles in an investment totalling £9.3m and expanding the fully electric fleet on York Park & Ride to 33 buses.
- Anti-Idling Initiatives, including ‘Kick the Habit’ campaign – CYC continued to promote its hard hitting anti-idling campaign throughout 2020. The campaign sets out to encourage people to think about the importance of clean air and the impact that this has on them, their health and those around them.
- Clean Air Day 2020 – Working in tandem with Walk to School Month (October 2020), Clean Air Day (8th October 2020) was promoted through the council’s Kick the Habit campaign. Work in 2020 reinforces action in previous years, including the erection of permanent signage in all council owned car parks across the city, at most city centre bus stops, multiple taxi ranks and at other key locations across the city.
- Low Emission Planning Guidance – City of York Council continues to develop and apply the LES based Planning Guidance, which accompanies policy ENV1 ‘Air Quality’ of the Local Plan. The guidance outlines City of York Council’s design and mitigation expectations for all new development in the city (including provision of EV charging facilities).
- Updates to Taxi Licensing Policy – Updates to CYC’s Taxi Licensing Policy were provisionally approved at a meeting of the Licensing & Regulatory Committee on 25th September 2020. A recommendation has been made to the council’s Executive that they amend the Taxi Licensing Policy and conditions with regards to the type of hackney carriage and private hire vehicles that will be licensed by the Council in the future. Proposed changes also include the introduction of a vehicle age limit for all vehicles except electric vehicles (EV) or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV).
- Low Emission Taxi Incentive Scheme – CYC launched its latest Defra funded Low Emission Taxi incentive scheme in November 2020. The scheme offers financial support for eligible CYC registered taxi drivers to upgrade to low emission vehicles. The scheme provides grant funding of up to £3000 to purchase petrol hybrid, plug-in hybrid and some petrol/diesel vehicles and will have the direct effect of reducing emissions of NOx/NO2 and particulate matter across the city.
- Electric Vehicle Charging Strategy and continued delivery of the strategic electric vehicle fast charge network – on 19th March 2020, City of York Council’s Executive approved a new EV Charging Strategy which set out the rationale for the number and location of EV charging points, the principles of tariff-setting, and the council’s approach to providing charging for residents in streets without off-road parking. The Executive also endorsed a commitment to continue to explore options for on street charging and facilities for charging electric taxis in the city centre. City of York Council’s new HyperHub sites are new dedicated charging hubs with 24/7 access containing four 50kW Rapid chargers and four 150kW Ultra Rapid chargers at each site under a solar voltaic canopy structure. CYC are delivering HyperHubs at Monks Cross and Poppleton and are working on a third City Centre site.
- Upgrades to CYC Fleet and addressing grey fleet trips – On 19th March 2020, City of York Council’s Executive agreed to commence the transition to an electric fleet for all vehicles under 3.5 tonne as part of a four year programme. The council’s fleet of vehicles is set to be upgraded as part of a bid to make York carbon neutral by 2030.
- E-Scooter Trial in York – E-scooters are now available on the streets of York as part of a 12-month rental trial operated by the leading European operator TIER, providing a safe and sustainable way of getting around the city.
- Active Travel Fund – After successfully delivering phase one of the Government’s Emergency Active Travel Fund in the summer of 2020 (£193,000), City of York Council have now been provisionally allocated £658,350 as part of phase two of this scheme. Funds will be used to support more active travel across York and the many residents who are choosing to walk and cycle more throughout the city’s COVID recovery. The Government’s Active Travel Fund is designed to support walking and cycling as a long-term method for commuting.