Clean Air Update

At a Special Cabinet meeting on the 22 January at Southampton Guildhall, we published our Proposed Business Case to deliver compliance with the EU limit for nitrogen dioxide by 2020. Cabinet considered the Proposed Business Case and the development of a Green City Charter. The final business case will be submitted to Government by the 31 January.

At the meeting, Cabinet announced its commitment to significantly improving air quality in the city by working with a broad range of partners – including residents, businesses, community groups and other organisations – to deliver the city's Green City Charter.

Through the Charter, the council will lead the way in becoming a clean, green and healthy city with a thriving economy. It will deliver actions that will improve air quality, reduce pollution and waste, minimise the impact of climate change, reduce health inequalities and create a more sustainable approach to economic growth. It will identify a clear set of objectives that are aligned with national priorities. In order to deliver these objectives, the council will work closely with businesses, community groups, residents and other organisations to make a coordinated and more pronounced effort to improve air quality.

The Green City Charter will ensure that environmental impacts are considered in the delivery of services and decision-making and, where possible, ensure we maximise the opportunity to deliver benefits. It will provide an opportunity to satisfy expectations and ambitions identified in the Clean Air Zone consultation.

Councillor Christopher Hammond, Leader of Southampton City Council talks about his ambition for improving air quality through the Green City Charter in this short video clip.

Cabinet is expected to formally adopt and develop the Green City Charter in March.

Outcome from the Clean Air Zone consultation and technical assessment

Southampton City Council and New Forest District Council were asked by Government to assess the need for a Clean Air Zone in Southampton, and have been working together to submit separate business plans to Government to improve air quality so that nitrogen dioxide in the city is within the EU limit by 2020.

We now know through our technical assessments, in part due to the delivery of £15 million worth of projects over the last three years, that by 2020 we should have reduced nitrogen dioxide levels by 24% in the most polluted areas, without the need for a charging zone. This means that by 2020 the city will be within the EU limit.  Examples of projects which have contributed to this include introducing cleaner city buses assisted by £2.7M secured from the Government’s clean bus technology fund; a low emission taxi incentive scheme; introduction of cleaner fuels and equipment at Southampton’s port; and investing £3.9M in our cycling infrastructure.

The recent Clean Air Zone consultation yielded an unprecedented 9,309 responses and clearly showed that city expectations and ambitions for cleaner air go beyond simply achieving legal compliance with the EU limit.

The council appreciates that it still has a long way to go and will be working with partners to create a bold new Green City Charter which will address a range of environmental issues including an ambitious aspiration to cut nitrogen dioxide pollution to 25ug/m3 by 2025 and to be carbon neutral by 2040.

Ahead of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee on the Clean Air Zone on 16 January, we published our Proposed Business Case to deliver compliance with the EU limit for nitrogen dioxide by 2020. Cabinet considered the Proposed Business Case and the development of a Green City Charter at a Special Cabinet meeting on the 22 January at Southampton Guildhall, before the final business case is submitted to Government by 31 January.