Environment Minister, Lesley Griffiths has awarded Cardiff Council £21m to implement a series of measures to improve air quality after she approved its revised clean air proposals.
In February 2018, the Welsh Government instructed Cardiff Council to undertake a feasibility study to identify measures to address illegal nitrogen dioxide exceedances in the shortest possible time.
In June 2019, Cardiff Council submitted its final Plan. It proposed a package of measures including:
- a bus retrofitting programme to lower emissions,
- taxi mitigation measures,
- city centre transport improvements and;
- an active travel package making it easier for people to walk and cycle in the city centre.
An Independent Review Panel, appointed by the Welsh Government, assessed the Plan and recommended it be accepted, albeit with a number of caveats.
Cardiff Council was asked to provide further clarity their identified package of measures was the route most likely to achieve compliance in the soonest time possible. This included a request for further evidence to justify why a charging Clean Air Zone was not a suitable option.
After full consideration and advice from the Independent Review Panel, the Minister has accepted the revised final plan. The Minister confirmed she is content Cardiff’s preferred option of non-charging measures is likely to achieve the legal requirement and deliver a marked and sustained reduction in emissions. The scheme will also provide further benefits more widely across the city centre.
Following approval of the Plan the Welsh Government will award Cardiff Council £21m to implement the air quality improvement measures included in it.
The Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths said:
Improving air quality across Wales is a Welsh Government priority. I am grateful to Cardiff Council for all of the work they have undertaken during this process and their clear commitment and dedication to delivering a solution to support air quality benefits for the city.
We will shortly confirm a funding award to meet the costs of the preferred option, and will continue to work closely with Cardiff Council on the programme of activity to ensure urgent compliance with nitrogen dioxide limit values.
Cardiff County Cllr Caro Wild, Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning and Transport, added:
This is very welcome news indeed and will enable us to get to work improving air quality in the city centre, especially around Castle Street, which surveys show was most likely to breach EU pollution limits by 2021. Everyone living, working and visiting Cardiff has the right to breathe in clean air and this grant will allow us to put in place measures which will reduce pollution.
Our team has worked hand in glove with Welsh Government to arrive at solutions we know will work quickly here in Cardiff. I want to thank Welsh Government for their input, it shows what can be done when cities and government work closely together to benefit citizens. We have stolen a march on most other major regional cities who are still developing their clean air plans.
Air pollution on Castle Street is the symptom of a wider problem which extends far beyond this stretch of road. We may be within legal limits across the city, but the cleaner we can make the air the better it will be for everyone. Next week we will publish a 10-year vision for transport which will build on this announcement, delivering a greener city for residents and future generations.