Air quality plans approved despite 'out of date' concerns
- Credit: EDP pics © 2007
A series of measures to improve air quality in Norwich have been approved by the city council, despite concerns that they are already out of date.
Norwich City Council cabinet discussed the 2020-25 air quality action plan on Wednesday - a series of 10 measures to cut pollution and improve air quality.
Measures include an expansion of the low emission zone (LEZ) in the city centre, restricting traffic in the LEZ to a tougher standard by 2023, promoting low emission public transport through grants, and expanding the cycle network.
Ahead of the meeting, it was revealed that no fines had been issued for bus and taxi drivers failing to turn off their engines in the current LEZ introduced in 2018.
The scheme will see this ban cover all streets in Norwich which are bus and taxi only, such as Rampant Horse Street, Red Lion Street and St Stephens Street.
Councillor Mike Stonard defended the lack of fines, saying it was "intended to be an educational policy".
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He said: "I would say that if we were going round collecting lots of fines it would be demonstrating that we had been unsuccessful in trying to persuade drivers to turn off their engines."
A council officer added that the council's powers meant that a driver had to be asked to turn off their engine first and could only be fined if they refused.
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Sandra Bogelein, the Green Party leader, raised concerns about the plans, calling them "out of date before it has even been implemented".
M Bogelien said the plans failed to take into account Covid recovery or to address domestic wood-burning stoves.
She called on the cabinet to delay a decision while consultation could be undertaken with the public, councillors and experts to ensure it was future-proof.
Mr Stonard defended the plans and said: "It seems to me with any strategic document, whenever we adopt them there will be evidence that will be overtaken by events.
"If we keep waiting until we have all the document we might be waiting a very long time.
"It is important we adopt this."
Mr Stonard added that the council had a good track record on the environment and there was nothing in the document to say they could not exceed the plans.