Agenda item - Low Emission Zone - Central Brighton

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Agenda item

Low Emission Zone - Central Brighton

Report of the Executive Director of Environment, Development & Housing (copy attached).

 

Decision:

1.                  That the Committee declares a Low Emission Zone in Castle Square, North Street and Western Road as far as the junction with Holland Road, with the aim of ensuring that all Public Service Vehicles to meet, as a minimum the Euro 5 emissions standard by 1 January 2015, with only licensed exemptions to this requirement as set out in this report.

 

2.                  That officers are authorised to further consult with bus operators, DEFRA and the Department for Transport with a view to making an application to the Traffic Commissioner for a Traffic Regulation Condition to establish the regulatory framework for the Low Emission Zone

 

3.                  That the Committee notes that officers will consult with taxi drivers on a range of specific proposals and initiatives to reduce taxi emissions for the consideration of the Licensing Committee.

 

Minutes:

68.1         The Committee considered a report of the Executive Director of Environment, Development & Housing that set out the results of the investigation into the introduction of a Low Emission Zone (LEZ) as requested by the Committee in July 2013 and proposals for implementation in Brighton & Hove.

 

68.2         Councillor Cox referred to paragraph 7.5 of the report that outlined the risk of public inquiry if objections were received from the bus companies to the Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) advertised by the Traffic Commissioner. Councillor Cox asked for further clarification on the matter and if the risk of a Public Inquiry was low particularly in view of the letter of support received by the Committee from the Chief Executive of Brighton & Hove Bus Company.

 

68.3         The Policy & Development Manager clarified that the financial implications of a Public Inquiry in the event of objections from a bus operator would be a potential cost of £20,000 to the authority. However, there had been extensive discussions with the local bus companies to reduce that risk as far as possible. The Policy & Development Manager added that should there be any objections to the TRO from a bus company, there would be opportunity to present these to Committee for consideration.

 

68.4         The Chair stated that it was indicated in the report and in the letter received from the Chief Executive of Brighton & Hove Bus Company that the proposals had the support of local bus companies.

 

68.5         Councillor Robins stated that he was unsure why the target for implementation had been set at 2015 as he understood that stipulation had been removed from the recommendations of the report previously received by the Committee.

 

68.6         Councillor Davey stated that he recalled that the Committee had made a commitment that work, including discussions with relevant partners begin and that a report on that matter and possible implementation be brought back to the Committee later in the year. Councillor Davey stated that the investigation and discussion was now complete allowing the Committee an opportunity to consider the report.

 

68.7          Councillor Wealls stated that his expectation was that with a third of buses operating in the proposed LEZ area Euro 5 compliant, that there would be a corresponding drop in emissions. However, as the table on page 53 of the agenda demonstrated, there had in fact been a 30% rise in that area over the past five years.

 

68.8         The Senior Technical Officer stated that the graph provided highlighted ambient concentrations of nitrogen dioxide levels rather than tailpipe data so would not highlight the impact of cleaner bus technology alone. The Policy & Development Manager added that the intention was for officers to gather tailpipe data which would help with identifying specific measures with regard to reducing emission levels.

 

68.9         Councillor Wealls stated that he was requesting clarification on expectations for a LEZ as the graph appeared to provide evidence that an improvement in bus technology over the past five years had not produced the expected improvement in air quality.

 

68.10     The Policy & Development Manger stated there were other factors that had contributed to the increase in nitrogen dioxide levels including several cold winters and an increase in other background levels. The Policy & Development Manager stated that evidence showed more widespread use of Euro 5 buses would certainly be an improvement on the current Euro 2 buses used.

 

68.11     Councillor Davey stated that the expectations were that the proposals would contribute to a much wider package of measures to reduce poor air quality. Councillor Davey added that if the proposals were accepted, there would be opportunity for the Committee to assess the impact of a LEZ sometime next year when the scheme was in place and more data and evidence was available. Councillor Davey claimed that the proposals were an opportunity to the Committee to make a real benefit to the city with one of the most successful bus services in the country. Furthermore, it would meet the objective to increase public transport services as well as road safety and air quality.

 

68.12     Councillor Mitchell welcomed the report adding her praise for Brighton & Hove Bus Company who she believed deserved enormous credit for supporting and eventually implementing the proposals which would involve significant work. Councillor Mitchell added that she was aware that local taxi companies were also willing to enter discussions on licensing measures to reduce emissions that should also be welcomed. Councillor Mitchell expressed her hope that discussions might eventually also include HGV operators. Councillor Mitchell supplemented that she was pleased tailpipe emission data would be collected and hope the results of that study would be reported when available.

 

68.13     The Chair re-iterated the comments made by Councillor Mitchell in acknowledging the credit due to Brighton & Hove Bus Company for their work and commitment.

 

68.14     Councillor Cox stated his praise for Councillor Davey for the work he had put into a potential scheme that had seen a positive result. Councillor Cox added his praise for Brighton & Hove Bus Company and for central government who had provided £750,000 to support the introduction of cleaner bus technology. Councillor Cox supplemented that he certainly did not expect a rise in fares associated with the introduction of Euro 5 buses as that would be counter-productive to efforts to reduce emissions in the city. Councillor Cox noted his support for the exemption of rural bus services from the scheme and expressed his hope that the measures might lead to consideration for alternative bus routes, in particular along the seafront.

 

68.15     Councillor Robins enquired if enforcement would be similar to the scheme in London that used photo recognition of number plates.

 

68.16     The Policy & Development Manager stated that the proposed scheme would be enforced by the council’s CCTV network. Any issues would first be brought to the bus operator’s attention for appropriate action. In the event of persistent non-compliance the matter could be reported to the Traffic Commissioner who can issue fines for failure to comply with the Traffic Regulation Condition.

 

68.17     Councillor Sykes welcomed the proposals that would be one of a number of measures used to improve air quality levels. Councillor Sykes noted that the cities air quality standard currently contravened EU regulations and there was an urgent need to undertake such measures to become compliant and avoid significant financial penalty.

 

68.18     Councillor Janio stated his agreement that there was an urgent need to introduce measures to improve air quality in the city. Councillor Janio stated that he disagreed that air quality should be assessed on tailpipe data alone and that other variables should also be accounted for. Councillor Janio enquired as to what other measures were being considered.

 

68.19     The Chair stated his agreement with Councillor Janio’s comments adding that there would be a series of measures in addition to an LEZ brought to Committee over the next few years. The Chair asked that officer briefings be offered to assist Members with specific questions.

 

68.20     Councillor Daniel requested that the comments made by Councillor Janio be addressed as they were pertinent to the debate.

 

68.21     The Senior Technical Officer stated that there was currently a high level of work being undertaken assessing the wide number of contributors to poor air quality. The Senior Technical Officer added that transport emissions were central to this noting that background levels of nitrogen dioxide taken in the Pavilion Park measured 25 hg/m3 whilst the key transport corridor of North Street, which was only a short distance away, measured 75hg/m3.

 

68.22     RESOLVED-

 

1.                  That the Committee declares a Low Emission Zone in Castle Square, North Street and Western Road as far as the junction with Holland Road, with the aim of ensuring that all Public Service Vehicles to meet, as a minimum the Euro 5 emissions standard by 1 January 2015, with only licensed exemptions to this requirement as set out in this report.

 

2.                  That officers are authorised to further consult with bus operators, DEFRA and the Department for Transport with a view to making an application to the Traffic Commissioner for a Traffic Regulation Condition to establish the regulatory framework for the Low Emission Zone

 

3.                  That the Committee notes that officers will consult with taxi drivers on a range of specific proposals and initiatives to reduce taxi emissions for the consideration of the Licensing Committee.

 

Supporting documents:

 


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