Funding boost for air quality in Nottingham

Nottingham City Council will be awarded £400,000 plus a share of £539,120 from the Joint Air Quality Unit (Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs, Department for Transport) as part of an annual funding pot to tackle air quality locally, it was announced today.

This year’s Air Quality Grant programme will focus on supporting schemes set up to tackle nitrogen dioxide levels. Nottingham City Council has successfully bid for two £200,000 schemes; one to trial fuel cell technology in the council’s operational sites; and a second to help improve the uptake of ultra-low emission vehicles in the local NHS fleet.
Nottingham has taken an innovative approach to tackling air quality, historically much of the air quality improvement work undertaken has been transport focussed with vehicle emissions at the forefront. Buildings however are responsible for 40% of a city’s energy demand and the associated emissions, by finding new and more energy efficient ways to heat and power our buildings we can make significant progress towards improving air quality. Nottingham City Council will be piloting cutting edge fuel cell technology in three of its high energy consuming buildings; gas boilers will be replaced with fuel cell systems which are the most efficient way of using gas for a building’s heat and power needs.
Councillor Alan Clark, Portfolio Holder for Energy and Sustainability, said: “We are delighted to take part in this Air Quality initiative from the Joint Air Quality Unit (Defra and DfT). This funding will complement the current programme of works led by the Energy Projects Service to target high energy use buildings for energy saving measures to reduce emissions and operational costs for Nottingham City Council.

“We are really excited about fuel cell technology. Early indications show that this technology could be really effective in reducing harmful emissions and buildings that use these new systems will also see significant reductions in their energy bills. This could have a huge benefit not only for the City Council but also for local businesses and households.

“We will be piloting the technology at three sites and estimate that each site could be saving up to £28,000 per year on their energy bills. This pilot will determine if investment in and a large scale roll-out of fuel cell systems is viable for the City Council, with ever tightening budgets this technology could be a significant initiative for the council as it seeks to reduce its running costs.”

Nottingham City Council will be using £200,000 from April onwards to carry out actions to remove barriers to ultra low emission vehicle (ULEV) uptake for the local health service and other businesses. The Air Quality Grant will help to utilise the Government funded Go Ultra Low Nottingham Programme in a targeted and more effective way.

The funding will focus on three main elements:

  • Business Transport Reviews: Assessing business and staff travel behaviour; undertake employer fleet reviews to help businesses identify opportunities for switching their fleets to ULEVs
  • Bespoke Action Plans: Offering a menu of services e.g. ULEV experience events to raise the profile and test drive opportunities, myth-busting information and fleet master classes for decision makers and ULEV procurement guidance for businesses to influence contracts and purchases
  • Monitoring and Dissemination: Monitoring and evaluation activity to assess the impact of actions and to support wide-scale dissemination and learning to others.

Councillor Nick McDonald Portfolio Holder for Business, Growth and Transport at Nottingham City Council, said: “Nottingham has an excellent reputation for providing sustainable travel solutions which in turn will help reduce the congestion in the city. Travelling on our clean buses and trams, together with cycling and walking helps improve air quality, has health benefits and can also improve access to jobs, education and training. We recognise that there will always be a place for car use, but through our Go Ultra Low Nottingham programme we are helping the city switch to greater numbers of low emission vehicles.

“We are really proud to have been successful in our bid for funding which will not only help us improve air quality to support the introduction of our Clean Air Zone in 2020 but also help us to encourage businesses and organisations in the city to shift to cleaner vehicles, so reducing traffic volumes and improving access to work, jobs and skills with programmes to support employers and those seeking work.”

Nottingham is one of five cities to be designated as a Clean Air Zone as part of the Government’s national air quality plan. The other cities are Birmingham, Southampton, Derby and Leeds.

The city will also receive a share of a £539,120 which will be awarded as part of a joint application with the other Clean Air Zone cities which will help promote the awareness of air pollution and the impact on heath.

Environment minister Therese Coffey said:

“Tackling poor air quality is a priority for the government and we are working closely with Local Authorities so they can play a crucial role in this.

“I was delighted at the broad range of ideas submitted – from using the latest technology to promoting cleaner taxis and increasing the uptake of electric vehicles – and these projects will help to improve the quality of life for people who live and work in our towns and cities, both now and in the future.”

More than £2billion has already been committed nationally since 2011 to increase the uptake of ultra-low emissions vehicles and support greener transport schemes and the government has set out how it will improve air quality through a new programme of Clean Air Zones. In last year’s Autumn Statement, a further £290m was allocated to support electric vehicles, low emission buses and taxis, and alternative fuels.

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