City air quality plan taking shape

Published Tuesday, 14 July 2020

As more people choose sustainable ways to travel around, efforts to improve air quality in Coventry are gaining more support.

Residents have been saying what they think about air quality plans in recent months, most recently in response to plans to design a major cycleway between Coundon and Coventry city centre.

A range of schemes which will enable reductions in NO2 levels in Coventry without the need to introduce a Clean Air Zone (CAZ D) were outlined in a recent consultation.

A CAZ D would have affected all vehicles travelling in areas of Coventry that do not meet certain air pollution standards.

For the CAZ-D to work some cars and other types of vehicle would have faced a charge to drive into a large part of the city. The Council always felt there was a better way of achieving the air quality objectives, and last year put forward its preferred package of measures - which now have been agreed by the government.

The feedback from recent consultations, and details of the next steps planned to cut air pollution, are being outlined in a report to councillors next week.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions the Council will provide its detailed air quality plans to the government by the end of October. Although a number schemes outlined in the report will get underway before that date.
A recent survey found a 40 per cent increase in cycling to work and walking to shops in Coventry. The survey also found that local people intend to keep walking and cycle more than they used to. 17% expect to cycle more and 47% expect to walk more than they did before Covid-19.

Cllr Jim O’Boyle, Cabinet Member for Jobs and Regeneration, said: “Residents and businesses are opposed to the idea of a charging CAZ D and in favour of various highways and other measures to address NO2 emissions.

“That’s why these measures are now being developed in more detail.

“In recent months there has been a shift towards more active travel and at the same time, as we kick-start the economy and people need choices in how they travel, we need to get these schemes underway.
“There are already a variety of other projects happening across the city to improve air pollution.

“Just recently I met with a local business involved in the roll-out of electric charging points; and there are lots of technological innovations being developed in Coventry that will help pave the way for greater access to and use of electric vehicles.

He added: “Local people and businesses rejected a CAZ D so the challenge now is to achieve NO2 reductions through a combination of behaviour change, cleaner vehicles and targeted junction and road layout improvements in areas where NO2 levels are above the legal limit.”

Coventry already has one of the largest networks of electric vehicle charge points in any city outside London, the introduction of electric taxis and buses onto the city’s streets, as well as the electric fleet programme which allows small businesses to try out electric vans.

In February, the government wrote to the Council in support of Coventry’s proposals which set out to reduce Nitrogen Dioxide emissions, benefiting residents through cleaner air and better health.
A legal direction from the government means that Coventry will need to submit a final full business case. The submission date was 19 June but will now be the end of October – due to the knock-on effects of the Covid-19 outbreak.

The Council is developing a combination of measures in the area around Holyhead Road, through Spon End from Hearsall Lane to Junction 7 of the Ring Road, and on Foleshill Road. All of these are being planned to avoid the introduction of a CAZ.

The package of measures include:

  • Capacity improvements on the B4106 through Spon End and Junction 7 of the Ring Road, including improved routes for pedestrians and cyclists;
  • Opening Upper Hill Street onto the Ring Road, giving left in/left out access to the Ring Road via the anti-clockwise on-slip road at Junction 8
  • Closure of Barras Lane between the A4114 Holyhead Road and Coundon Road/Upper Hill Street allowing the removal of the signals at the Barras Lane / Holyhead Road junction
  • Reducing the number of polluting vehicles by introducing restrictions on the eastern section of the A4114 Holyhead Road on the approach to Junction 8
  • Construction of a segregated cycle route linking Coundon with the city centre along Coundon Road and Upper Hill Street;
  • Engagement initiative (travel planning) for schools, businesses and communities along Holyhead Road Corridor;
  • Banning the right turn from Cash’s Lane onto Foleshill Road
  • HGV ban on part of Foleshill Road;
  • Assigning electric buses to Foleshill Road.

Coventry has been awarded grant funding of £24.5m to implement the schemes.

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