A senior urban transport chief has called on the Government to stop ‘gaming’ its approach to air pollution and called for a more collaborative approach with local authorities.
Jonathan Bray, director of Urban Transport Group (UTG), which represents Britain's largest urban areas on transport issues, criticised the way the Government’s national Air Quality Plan, has restricted the options available to local authorities, such as wider fiscal measures on diesel vehicles.
Traffic congestion is a major source of toxic pollution
'If you were really looking at solving the problem you wouldn't take them off the table in the first place,' he told Transport Network.
Mr Bray said he agreed with 'quite a lot of comment that the [Government's] projections are on the optimistic side' – a reference to criticism of the modelling behind the Government’s plans, which envisage compliance with the EU air quality directive in all areas of the country except London by 2020.
He said: 'Let's stop gaming this and let's have a serious plan between national and city government and lets tackle this in a collaborative way.'
Earlier this week UTG published a ‘roadmap’ to better relations between city regions and government on transport issues, which called for ‘a more effective partnership with national government to tackle air quality challenges…based on robust modelling which shapes ambitious targets’.
The Government’s national AQP, published last December following a high court victory by campaigners ClientEarth, includes ‘Clean Air Zones’ in Birmingham, Leeds, Nottingham, Derby and Southampton by 2020.
However, ClientEarth is again challenging the plans in the courts on the basis that they do not go far enough.
In May, London mayor Sadiq Khan, who has proposed a package of mainly transport-based measures to tackle pollution in the capital, announced that he was backing ClientEarth’s legal challenge.