A breath of fresh air for Norwich city centre
Posted: 29/07/2008 22:26:59
Norwich Low Emission Zone launch, 10.00am Wednesday 30 July*
Norwich's first Low Emission Zone comes into force on Wednesday 30 July, bringing a breath of fresh air into the heart of the city at Castle Meadow.
The official start of the zone will be marked by a celebration of the progress made in reducing harmful emissions from vehicle exhausts, and an announcement of the steps being taken to ensure further improvements in air quality over the next two years.
The event will begin at County Hall, Edwards Room, at 10.00 (*see notes for further details). A number of low-emission buses will be displayed on the forecourt. There will be interview opportunities with representatives of bus companies, Norwich City and Norfolk County councils, and drivers trained in greener and cleaner driving.
A bus will then take guests and the media into the Castle Meadow Low Emission Zone(about 11.00) where there will be further interview and photo opportunities. The open-topped Norwich city tour bus - complete with new low-emission engine - will be on hand to celebrate the launch of the zone.
The introduction of the zone is a joint initiative between Norfolk County Council and Norwich City Council and is one of the measures introduced as part of the CIVITAS initiative, co-financed by the European Union, for cleaner and better transport in cities.
Large diesel engines are responsible for higher levels of harmful emissions than most other modern vehicles. Castle Meadow's high level of bus movements was a significant factor in its air quality problems, leading the councils to implement stricter limits on exhaust emissions, and suport this with tangible support for bus operators, including:
~ Grants of up to 65% towards the cost of emissions reducing equipment, or engine replacement, for older vehicles. A total of Ł500,000 has been made available by Norfolk County Council and further EU funding has been provided to partners in the CIVITAS project.
~ Free eco-driving training for bus drivers, which has produced big savings in fuel consumption, as well as reduced exhaust emissions. This method of driving also results in a smoother ride for passengers and has the potential to reduce accidents.
Tony Adams (Norfolk County Council), Chairman of the joint city and county Norwich Highways Agency Committee, said:
“The steps being taken to improve air quality in the Castle Meadow Low Emission Zone will have benefits over a much wider area. What has been particularly pleasing has been the way the councils and bus companies have recognised the problem, and have worked together to make improvements. Grant aid from the councils has helped, but we have also seen a real commitment from bus companies, who have also invested their own money in cleaning up exhaust emissions.”
Brian Morrey (Norwich City Council), Vice Chair, said:
“Poor air quality can directly affect people's health - especially those with conditions such as asthma. Castle Meadow is full of people waiting for buses or shopping, so the Low Emission Zone will directly benefit thousands of people every day. The improvements we have already seen have literally brought a breath of fresh air to the heart of the city.”
The Low Emission Zone is one of 17 transport measures being introduced to benefit the Norwich area and beyond as part of the CIVITAS initiative for cleaner and better transport in cities, which is co-financed by the European Union.
Innovative steps taken by the councils to support the Low Emission Zone include:
~ An environmental Traffic Regulation Condition attached to bus companies' Operator's Licences to regulate the emissions of buses operating in the Castle Meadow area.
~ A Traffic Regulation Order requiring bus drivers to switch off engines when waiting in Castle Meadow.
Over the next two years an increasing proportion of the bus fleet will be required to meet standards that will deliver specific reductions in harmful emissions of nitrogen oxides, small particulates, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons.
Air quality within the Low Emission Zone will be monitored and checks made to ensure that operators are complying with the Traffic Regulation Condition.
The LEZ is being introduced in response to the City Council identifying Castle Meadow as an air quality management area (AQMA) as the levels of nitrogen dioxide are above government/EU targets. The long term intention is to ensure the annual mean levels of nitrogen dioxide are less than 40µg/m3 and annual mean levels of particulate pollution (PM10) of 20µg/m3. Other AQMAs in Norwich are St Augustines and Grapes Hill.
The CIVITAS Initiative helps cities to achieve a more sustainable, clean and energy efficient urban transport system by implementing and evaluating an ambitious, integrated set of technology and policy based measures. The lessons learned from these projects are then shared to help other cities considering similar projects.
Objectives of CIVITAS:
~ To promote and implement sustainable, clean and (energy) efficient urban transport measures.
~ To implement integrated packages of technology and policy measures in the field of energy and transport in 8 categories of measures.
~ To build up critical mass and markets for innovation.
For further information visit: http://www.civitas-initiative.eu/main.phtml?lan=en
*10.00 - Guests and media arrive. Refreshments, displays and introductory remarks in the Edwards Room, County Hall.
10.30 - Interview and photo opportunity around the buses parked on the County Hall forecourt.
10.55 - Bus to Castle Meadow for further interview/photo opportunities within the Low Emmission Zone .
11.45 - 12.00 - Arrive back at County Hall.
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