Highways England and Network Rail 'should do more on pollution'


City region transport bosses have called on ministers to make ‘five practical policy changes’ to help them improve air quality, including requiring government transport bodies to do more.


The Urban Transport Group (UTG), made up of the UK’s seven largest urban transport authorities, urged the Government to make ‘operational’ changes that it said would help officers tasked with developing and delivering air quality plans.

A letter the Government’s Joint Air Quality Unit – a joint venture between the Department for Transport and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs – asks for five policy changes:

  • Highways England and Network Rail ‘are responsible for significant levels of air pollution in the city regions’ and should be required to set out much clearer strategies for meeting their responsibilities in tackling these emissions
  • Part 6 of the Traffic Management Act 2004 should be implemented so that local authorities can enforce moving traffic offences to reduce the idling and stop-start conditions that cause congestion and a build-up of toxic air
  • there should be a long-term plan and consistent funding support for the greening of the bus fleet rather than unpredictable and ad hoc funding pots
  • provide leadership, and an overarching strategy, for the greening of public service vehicles (such as refuse trucks, ambulances and van fleets) together with targeted financial support
  • 'make the NHS part of the solution rather than part of the problem' including by requiring the NHS to consult with transport authorities when making decisions on healthcare locations in order to minimise negative impacts on health, the environment and communities

UTG director Jonathan Bray said its ‘operational asks’ complemented the higher level strategic asks around funding and fiscal measures that are being pursued at the political level by city region leaders.

He said: ‘City region transport authorities are working hard to improve air quality on tight timescales and on tight budgets. If we are to hit these targets we need the Government to work more closely with us to crack some of the practical obstacles that stand in our way.

‘We believe that by making these relatively straight forward and common sense policy changes, government can provide vital assistance to those who are working at the sharp end of our efforts to reduce toxic emissions from urban transport as rapidly as possible.’

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