As a major study shows that air pollution in many towns and cities across the UK, including Liverpool, has returned to or exceeded pre-pandemic levels, Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram has vowed to work with partners to improve air quality and reduce the 800 deaths that air pollution contributes to every year in the Liverpool City Region.
The Centre for Cities report was published on the same day as the draft Air Quality Action Plan for the city region, which the Combined Authority will be asked to approve at its meeting on Friday 18 December.
The plan, developed by its Air Quality Task Force, which includes representatives from partner organisations across the city region, including all six local authorities, responds to the impact of the Coronavirus crisis on the city region, and makes a number of recommendations, including:
- Housing retrofit measures to reduce heat loss from homes and reduce energy use
- Rolling out a network of alternative fuel facilities across the region, such as hydrogen fuelling facilities, linked to a £6.4 million scheme to pilot hydrogen buses in the city region
- Scrappage schemes such as a Taxi Scrappage Scheme
- Continued development of our £30m, 600km walking and cycling network
- Building confidence in walking, cycling and the use of public transport
- Working towards a zero-emission bus fleet by 2040
- Investigating alternative models of bus delivery to best serve the needs of the city region and improve air quality
- Potential of a boiler scrappage scheme to help address domestic consumption and fuel poverty
- Procuring new cleaner, greener Mersey Ferries vessels to replace the existing, 60-year old vessels
- Capturing traffic and transport data to collect real time air quality data
- Making the case to Government for long-term funding certainty to support the delivery of measures that support clean air
Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, said:
“The climate emergency is a challenge that we cannot afford to ignore and we aren’t in the Liverpool City Region. Tackling the climate crisis and improving air quality is one of my top priorities.
“We were the first region in the country to declare a Climate Emergency in recognition the that challenge we face. But we want to do more than just talk about doing the right thing – we’re following up with firm action.
“We plan to become net zero carbon, a whole decade before national targets and are already making progress on through projects that replace polluting buses with greener hydrogen models, retrofitting homes to make them more energy efficient and encouraging people to ditch their cars in favour of the 600km walking and cycling network we’re building.
“We have an ambition to be the UK’s renewable energy coast, with world-leading expertise in hydrogen and tidal, as part of our plans for Mersey Tidal Power – a project with the potential to provide enough clean, predictable energy to power a million homes.”
“Even one death from air pollution or climate change is a tragedy. We’ll be doing everything we can to prevent them as this plan shows, we’re already getting started.”
Councillor Liam Robinson, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority Portfolio Holder for Air Quality and Transport, said:
“We know that we cannot tackle these urgent issues alone – which is why our Air Quality Task Force is made up of elected and other representatives from across the six local authority area of the city region.
“And it’s why this plan contains actions for the Combined Authority, for our constituent Local Authorities and partners, supported by the Combined Authority, for residents, communities and businesses and actions we need from central government and its agencies.
“The first lockdown in particular gave us a glimpse of what a world with cleaner air could look like but the latest figures show how short-lived that glimpse was. We’ve also seen growing evidence of how exposure to toxic air can increase risks from COVID-19, on top of all of the other know health effects.
“We all need to change the way we live, work and do business if we are to improve our air quality for ourselves and for future generations. Now is the time for action.”