Liverpool Clean Air Plan

Why Liverpool?

In October 2018, the Council was instructed by the Government to produce a Clean Air Plan (CAP) and its aim was to look at how air quality could be improved regarding levels of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) – all in ‘the shortest possible time’. Air quality monitoring and computer transport modelling has forecasted nine stretches of road in Liverpool which would exceed the required NO2 value of 40.45 ug/m3 in 2023. The Clean Air Plan is now focused on reducing NO2 concentrations in the nine locations.

What happens if Liverpool does not comply?

If we do not comply with the clean air requirements there will be an unacceptable risk to people’s health and the city could also face a substantial fine.

What is a Clean Air Zone?

A Clean Air Zone (CAZ) is a defined area where targeted action is taken to improve air quality, as a consequence of pollution from motor vehicles. Although a CAZ aims to reduce all kinds of air pollution, it is specifically focused on nitrogen dioxide (NO2) so that people breathe in less of all this pollutant. A charging CAZ is a defined area in which the drivers of the most polluting vehicles have to pay a fee to drive in.

Is Liverpool introducing a Charging Clean Air Zone?

As part of Liverpool’s Clean Air Plan, the council has now moved away from a charging CAZ option, which would have seen drivers of non-compliant vehicles pay to drive in certain parts of the city.

Despite extensive modelling of different sizes and categories of a Charging CAZ in Liverpool, none addressed all the forecast exceedances. The recent experience of the Greater Manchester charging CAZ, highlighted concerns that the effectiveness of a CAZ could be significantly impacted by vehicle upgrade delays and affordability issues for residents and businesses – which have all been worsened by the current economic climate.

Due to the same factors being relevant to Liverpool, it became clear that the roll out of any charging CAZ scheme could not happen ahead of 2025 – by which time, Liverpool would have only one remaining stretch of road exceedance – this being related to volume of traffic and the closeness of the buildings to the road, rather than the cleanliness of vehicles, so the exceedance wouldn’t be resolved by a charging zone.

Why did Liverpool have to consider a Charging Clean Air Zone?

As part of producing the CAP, Liverpool and all other mandated local authorities were required to look at a charging CAZ – as it was believed this would bring forward air quality compliance quicker than any other option.

What is Liverpool planning to do to improve Air Quality instead of a charging CAZ?

Over the last few years extensive technical modelling work has been done to identify areas in Liverpool with high levels of air pollution, to understand the cause and find solutions.  The current plan contains a range of highways measures and the Council is looking at ways that will help people use public transport and active travel as part of the developing City Centre Mobility Strategy

What are the next steps for Liverpool to deliver their Clean Air Plan?

Liverpool City Council need to submit the Outline Business Case to the Government for their approval in Summer 2022.  Following that, we will work up the Full Business Case.  The government then need to review the evidence and release funding to allow Liverpool City Council to implement these measures.

Will the public have a say?

The Council are still working on the details of the proposed measures and are waiting for feedback from Government about whether they will fund the measures. 

After that, there will be local engagement for the communities most impacted by the changes as well as inviting feedback from across the City and the wider City Region. 

The Council have already asked the public, businesses, and the taxi trade about their views in the last year and we plan to do further engagement as soon as possible.

An image of the Clean Air Zone symbol of a cloud in a circle

General Air Quality Questions

What is nitrogen dioxide and what does it do?

Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is a gas produced by burning fossil fuels with one of the biggest sources of NO2 being diesel used as a fuel in vehicle engines. Research has found that NO2 particularly affects children and people with existing respiratory problems, including asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). In long periods of exposure, it can cause breathing problems and lung damage.

Is air pollution getting worse?

Monitoring undertaken by the Council has shown that the air quality in Liverpool is improving very slowly.  However, our aim is to reduce the air pollution to below legal limits in the shortest possible time.

What has Liverpool been doing to improve air quality?

In recent years Liverpool City council have taken been involved in various activities and projects to improve air quality. Some of these are listed below:

  • The multi-million-pound Liverpool City Centre Connectivity Scheme that will enhance the Public Realm for pedestrians and cyclists while at the same time improving travel across the city. It includes major road improvement schemes that will bring about improvements in air quality by reducing congestion and improving traffic flow.
  • Participated in the URBAN GreenUP project which involved the use of nature-based solutions such as tree planting and green walls in the urban city environments.
  • Between 2017 and mid 2021 the number of diesel vehicles in the council’s own vehicle fleet has reduced from 158 (81% of fleet) to 52 (30%); Over the same time the number of EV and Hybrid vehicles has increased from 5 (2.5%) to 52 (31%).
  • The council has worked with 18 schools across the city, providing educational sessions for pupils and monitoring of air pollution in and near to the school. Also, the new Schools Streets project will involve the closure of streets in the vicinity of nine schools in the Liverpool area at drop off and collections times with the aim of improving road safety and air quality.

Further information on the councils ongoing work to improve air quality can be found here

The Government told us to buy diesel cars to reduce CO2, and now we are being told that diesel cars are worse for air quality?

In the past the Government encouraged the public to purchase diesel vehicles in an attempt to reduce carbon emissions, which was the focus on air quality at that time. However, progression in scientific research and technological advancements has shown that diesel powered vehicles contribute significant amounts of NO2 which can be harmful to public health.

What can I do now to protect myself and people I care about?

Re-mode: One simple and cost-effective change we can do to improve air quality is changing the way we travel. This could be in the form of car sharing, choosing to use public transport, or travel by non-motorised means such as cycling or walking. Even if we choose to travel differently just once a week, we could reduce the amount of air pollution our cars produce by up to 20%.

Re-time: Avoiding morning and evening rush hours can reduce congestion, thus minimising pollution from idling vehicles stuck in traffic jams.

Re-route: If possible, choose quieter routes that are less susceptible to congestion. When walking or cycling, try and keep away from busy roads by using parks, public footpaths or canals. The closer you are to busy traffic, the more you are at risk of air pollution.

Reduce: Avoiding unnecessary trips and driving economically by only accelerating gently. Sticking to speed limits and switching your engine off when stationary uses less fuel, saves money, reduces the risk of having an accident and ultimately reduces air pollution.
School Run: Where possible, cycle or walk with your children to school and support schools to develop active travel programs. If you have to drive, consider parking and walking for the last part of your journey and avoid idling by turning the engine off when you are waiting near the school gates.

Where can I find out more?

Further updates on the Clean Air Plan and will be published on “Let’s Clear the Air Liverpool” website and our respective communication channels, including Facebook and Twitter.

Aerial view of Liverpool