The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) has today announced its plans to help Nottingham City Council improve air quality in the city centre by introducing Clean Air Zones by 2020.

The City Council is developing far-reaching measures to tackle city centre air pollution, by targeting the main vehicular causes of pollution whilst at the same time minimising the impact on car drivers and businesses.

Nottingham is one of five cities that will have Clean Air Zones by 2020, covering buses, coaches and taxis.

The City Council is awaiting the verdict of the Government’s Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) on its bid for £7m to help develop electric car charging infrastructure and other measures to promote a low carbon transport zone in the city centre. A series of other OLEV bids for innovative, low carbon travel solutions include a £0.9m Electric Bus Project application to fund a bus charging network, a £25.5m project bid with Nottingham City Transport to introduce 82 gas-powered double deck buses to the city and a further bid to develop an electric taxi fleet in the city.

Councillor Nick McDonald, Nottingham City Council’s Portfolio Holder for Jobs, Growth and Transport, said: “We welcome the Defra announcement as we are keen to quickly progress plans to reduce the impact of the big polluters like buses, taxis and coaches. At the same time we will, if successful in our current bid to Government, be offering incentives for car drivers and businesses to switch to electric vehicles by putting in place an electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

“Nottingham already has a series of schemes in place to grow the number of ultra low emission vehicles by both businesses and private car users. Existing initiatives such as the City Car Club, the extended tram routes and Europe’s largest fleet of electric buses are already making the use of electric vehicles a practical and viable choice for many local people. What we now need is for the Government to help us by providing both the legal powers to enforce a low emission clear zone in the city centre and to provide us with additional funding to help deliver our plans to future-proof Nottingham and put us in the driving seat to become the UK’s first electric city.

“We closely monitor nitrogen dioxide and atmospheric particles, and since 2011 the level of harmful particles has fallen and carbon emissions have reduced by 21%, but we want to achieve much more. Encouraging the use of low emission vehicles and introducing a clear air zone is a key part of our plans to tackle air pollution caused directly by vehicle emissions, along with making it easier for people to get out of their cars and choose public transport, cycling or walking as their preferred means of getting around.”

Announcements on the outcome of Nottingham City Council’s OLEV bids will be made in 2016, with the decision on the £7m electric charging infrastructure bid expected in January.