Is our holiday air as fresh as we’d hope?


Mark Stacey (pictured), managing director, Crown International, discusses the importance of keeping our getaways, worth getting a way to.


According to the annual Travelodge Holiday Index (published 11 June 2019), 69% of Brits plan to take their annual summer holiday in the UK this year with the top five holiday destinations being Cornwall, Blackpool, Devon, London and The Lake District.

But while holiday makers dream of soaking up the views and breathing fresh air in their favourite rural and coastal holiday retreats, many would be shocked to discover that Devon, Cornwall and The Lake District alone are home to over 15 known air pollution zones where levels of Nitrous Oxides (NOx) and other pollutants regularly exceed legal levels.

Since 1997, every local authority in the country has been required to monitor air quality, reporting levels of NOx, CO2 and other pollutants to the environment department, DEFRA, to make sure they meet legal air quality requirements.

Any areas where national air quality objectives are not likely to be met are identified as Air Quality Management Areas (AQMA), with local authorities required to put in place measures to improve air quality and protect public health and the environment.

So, while the South West and other favourite holiday destinations may enjoy a reputation for clean living and environmental conscientiousness, the detail is a little less wholesome.

In almost all of the AQMAs identified above, the key pollutant is NOx. Under European regulations, NOx should not exceed 200microgrammes/m3 more than 18 times a year, with an annual mean average of just 40 microgrammes/m3. However, in these AQMAs, levels are consistently higher.

As most NOx emissions originate from motor vehicles, it’s no surprise that many AQMAs are located around main routes in and out of these popular holiday destinations. However, many smaller holiday towns also suffer from poor air quality, particularly during peak holiday season as narrow roads that weren’t designed to cope with modern-day traffic slow vehicles to a crawl, increasing roadside pollution.

While cities and urban environments have attempted to tackle air pollution by introducing punitive financial measures to discourage the use of motor vehicles, for areas whose economies are reliant on attracting tourists, such steps don’t offer a realistic solution.

Clean and green

So, how can councils reliant on tourist pounds but already competing with cheap overseas holidays improve air quality without pricing out the very tourists that contribute to the problem or negatively impacting on traditional landscapes that are intrinsic to their attraction?

The obvious starting point is public transport. Several areas of the south west and Cumbria have invested in bespoke bus routes - some operating biofuel fleets - that run during peak holiday seasons to encourage holidaymakers to make greener transport choices. But, as anyone who has ever travelled with pre-school children will sympathise, bus transport isn’t always a practical solution, nor does it allow visitors to explore beyond the main tourist honeypots.

Investing in infrastructure to support the use of electric vehicles offers another solution. Many tourism businesses have already spotted the environmental and commercial benefits of offering a ‘environmentally-friendly’ experience while the unique geography and geology of these areas means many are already hotspots for green energy initiatives.

Investing in electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure is a natural extension of this theme but requires investment at council or local authority level to truly succeed.

The Government has a range of financial resources to help councils improve air quality, which could be used for this purpose and, conscious of pressures on council budgets, manufacturers are also actively working to reduce installation and maintenance costs through innovative design.

For example, Crown’s EV Charge Point can be retrofitted to existing street furniture, eliminating the need to dig up roads to install new cables.

This typically offers councils a saving of £3,000 to £4,000 per charging point, as well as creating a revenue stream from the electricity used.

Retrofitting charge points to existing street furniture also limits the aesthetic impact of this much-needed technology in historic holiday towns and villages, preserving the nature and character of locations that trade on their traditional image.

Other solutions include filters that actively remove NOx from the air and greater use of smart technologies to divert traffic away from congestion pinch points at key times of day.

Apps that help drivers locate and pre-book parking/charging stations can also reduce congestion - and emissions - caused by drivers searching for suitable places to stop, allowing other vehicles to move more freely and reducing their emissions too.

UK engineers have a long history of rising to the challenges of the times and they are no different when it comes to ‘green technologies’.

We need to invest in these technologies, not simply ‘tax’ people, if we truly want to clean up the air we breathe and getting it right doesn’t have to cost the earth!

Register now for full access

Register just once to get unrestricted, real-time coverage of the issues and challenges facing UK transport and highways engineers.

Full website content includes the latest news, exclusive commentary from leading industry figures and detailed topical analysis of the highways, transportation, environment and place-shaping sectors. Use the link below to register your details for full, free access.

Already a registered? Login

comments powered by Disqus
highways jobs

Development Management Engineer

North Yorkshire County Council
£24,313 to £34,788
An excellent candidate is required to prove to have the desire and ambition to progress and develop into an exciting career, and... North Yorkshire
Recuriter: North Yorkshire County Council

Part Time Community Rail Partnership Officer

Essex County Council
£24000 - £26275 per annum + Plus Excellent Benefits Package
Please note that this position is being offer on a part time basis, covering 23 hours per week. Working Pattern TBC. England, Essex, Rochford
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Development Management Engineer

North Yorkshire County Council
£24,313 to £34,788
To be successful you must... Northallerton, North Yorkshire
Recuriter: North Yorkshire County Council

Environmental Health Officer and Grad EHO – Private Sector Housing with benefits* x 2

Camden London Borough Council
£33,122 - £42,490
We have an exciting opportunity for two organised and enthusiastic Environment Health Officers  or a qualified graduate working towards their... Camden, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Camden London Borough Council

Ugobus Driver x 7 positions

Essex County Council
Up to £18938.0 per annum
Please note that this is a 6 month fixed term contract on a part time basis. Working hours will be discussed at interview. The salary is up to £18,938 England, Essex, Chelmsford
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Highways Engineer

Rutland County Council
£29,636 - £31,371 per annum
Do you enjoy getting outdoors in the course of your work? Rutland
Recuriter: Rutland County Council

Senior Highways Manager

Rutland County Council
£47,544 to £51,138
This is the lead role for our Highways service with a remit to... Rutland
Recuriter: Rutland County Council

Road Safety Assistant (Cycling)

London Borough of Bexley
£13,947.32 - £14,713.97, per annum
You will be an enthusiastic individual who can effectively communicate with children and adults. Bexleyheath, London (Greater)
Recuriter: London Borough of Bexley

Key Route Network Manager

Liverpool City Region
£63,753 - £71,747
An exciting new opportunity has arisen within the Integrated Transport Directorate of the LCR Combined Authority Liverpool, Merseyside
Recuriter: Liverpool City Region

Medium/Heavy Vehicle Mechanic - January 2020

North West Leicestershire District Council
You could earn up to £28,785 + 0.75 hours per week plain time overtime
Tasks will include preparation for DVSA annual examination, servicing, general and defect generated repairs, fault finding including diagnostic tests. Coalville, Leicestershire
Recuriter: North West Leicestershire District Council

Senior Engineer (Co-ordinator) - 2 jobs

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£22,462 - £29,636 + £2000 Market Rate Supplement
The role is in the Highway Network Management & Co-ordination (HNMC) Team, which is part of Operational Services. Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Surface Water Engineer

Essex County Council
£30001.0 - £35350 per annum
At Essex County Council, we're passionate about helping deliver economic growth, the best starts in life and the chance to age well for people in the England, Essex, Chelmsford
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Highways Operations Manager

Swindon Borough Council
Salary up to £41,494 p.a.
In this key role, you will plan, organise, co-ordinate and control the workforce Swindon, Wiltshire
Recuriter: Swindon Borough Council

Director Neighbourhood & Enforcement

Telford & Wrekin Council
Cicra 89k
Telford and Wrekin is a great place to live, work, visit and do business. Telford, Shropshire
Recuriter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Senior Engineer (Highways Maintenance Design)

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£22,462 - £29,636
Are you looking for an opportunity to work as a Senior Engineer, whilst still being able to develop your career and have a good work-life balance? Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recuriter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Highways Projects Engineer

Cambridgeshire County Council
£33,153 - £35,755
Looking for strong team players interested in working with a variety of professional and community partners across Cambridgeshire and... Cambridgeshire
Recuriter: Cambridgeshire County Council

Lead Practitioner (Infrastructure)

Newark & Sherwood District Council
£33,799 to £35,934 per annum
Newark and Sherwood is looking to recruit to its newly created post of Lead Practitioner for Infrastructure. Newark, Nottinghamshire
Recuriter: Newark & Sherwood District Council

Senior Parking Manager

Brent Council
£55,638 - £58,779 p.a. inc.
As Senior Parking Manager, you will be responsible for the effective management of the Council’s Parking Services contract Brentford (City/Town), London (Greater)
Recuriter: Brent Council

School Crossing Patrol

Brent Council
£21,591 - £22,377 p.a. inc. pro rata. (£11.50 per hour)
A school crossing patrol officer is responsible for assisting children to cross the road safely on their way to and from school. Brent, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Brent Council

Traffic Engineering Team Leader

Telford & Wrekin Council
£39,782 - £42,683
This is an exciting opportunity to join Telford & Wrekin Council’s Network Management Team Telford, Shropshire
Recuriter: Telford & Wrekin Council