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

Project Engineer (Permanent)

Havant Borough Council
We’re looking for an experienced and enthusiastic engineer to join our well-regarded design and implementation team. Havant, Hampshire
Recuriter: Havant Borough Council

Project Engineer (Fixed Term)

Havant Borough Council
We’re looking for an experienced and enthusiastic engineer to join our well-regarded design and implementation team. Havant, Hampshire
Recuriter: Havant Borough Council

Contract Supervisor

London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth
£31,013 - £36,486 depending on skills, knowledge and experience
The role of Contract Supervisor (Waste and Street Cleansing) will require you to support ambitious plans to provide services for residents Richmond upon Thames, London (Greater)
Recuriter: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth

Flood Risk Manager

Birmingham City Council
£43,662 - £54,574
The role requires the post holder to be the lead professional for the Authority’s Flood Risk Management and drainage function Birmingham, West Midlands
Recuriter: Birmingham City Council

Head of Highways & Transport

Lewisham London Borough Council
up to £72,705
As our lead expert on highways and transport, you will set the direction and lead on all transport related matters Lewisham, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Lewisham London Borough Council

Ugobus Driver (multiple positions)

Essex County Council
Up to £18938.0 per annum
Please note that we have permanent, fixed term and relief contract opportunities on a part time, job share and flexible working basis. The salary is u England, Essex, Chelmsford
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Assistant Director

Hounslow London Borough Council
Up to £82k
Working across a wide range of high profile direct services, the emphasis for this role is on partnership working. Hounslow (City/Town), London (Greater)
Recuriter: Hounslow London Borough Council

Head of Parks and Environmental Services

Harrogate Borough Council
£58,778 - £61,882
You will have experience at a senior level in the management and delivery of front line services relevant to the functions Harrogate, North Yorkshire
Recuriter: Harrogate Borough Council

Programme Technician/Engineer

Norfolk County Council
£29,636 - £31,371 per annum
This is a challenging position which involves working across wide ranging activities. Norwich, Norfolk
Recuriter: Norfolk County Council

Principal Transport Planner – 2 posts (Warrington Waterfront Western Link)

Warrington Borough Council
£40,760 - £43,662 plus essential car user allowance
We are looking to form a new Warrington Waterfront Western Link Team and we are looking to fill a number of key posts Warrington, Cheshire
Recuriter: Warrington Borough Council

Director of Integrated Transport

Liverpool City Region
Salary up to £124,848
The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority is embarking on a search for an exceptional individual with the passion to deliver on our vision Liverpool, Merseyside
Recuriter: Liverpool City Region

Highways Manager

Oxford Direct Services
Oxford Direct Services
Recuriter: Oxford Direct Services

Data Entry Administrator

Telford & Wrekin Council
£18,795 - £19,171
Telford & Wrekin’s Public Protection Service is looking for an enthusiastic and self-motivated Data Entry Administrator Telford, Shropshire
Recuriter: Telford & Wrekin Council

Transport Planner

Camden London Borough Council
£33,122 to £38,423
You’ll have previous experience of working in a transport/planning/accessible transport environment Camden, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Camden London Borough Council

Parking Business Administrator Level 3 Apprenticeship

Brent Council
£15,000 p.a. inc.
This role will support the Brent Parking Team work to provide administrative support for both the Notice Processing Team Brentford (City/Town), London (Greater)
Recuriter: Brent Council

Principal Engineer (Development)

Liverpool City Council
£37,849 - £42,683
Liverpool City Council wish to recruit a Principal Engineer (Development) to provide managerial and technical support. Liverpool, Merseyside
Recuriter: Liverpool City Council

Traffic Manager

Lincolnshire County Council
£55,503 - £60,578
We are looking to recruit a Traffic Manager to join our Highways team Lincoln, Lincolnshire
Recuriter: Lincolnshire County Council

Team Leader x2 - Passenger Transport

Redbridge London Borough Council
£27,228 - £28,215 per annum
You will be responsible for overseeing the duties of Passenger Transport drivers as well as providing support to the service and managers. Redbridge, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Redbridge London Borough Council

UTMC Engineer

Warrington Borough Council
£31,371 - £34,788
You will support the UTMC Principal Engineer and work as part of a team responsible for all aspects of Urban Traffic Management and Control Warrington, Cheshire
Recuriter: Warrington Borough Council

Programme Assurance Manager Public Realm

Westminster City Council
£46,293 - £49,203 per annum
A graduate, or have equivalent experience, and you can show evidence of continued professional, managerial and personal development... City of Westminster, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Westminster City Council