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Cardiff council has revealed the steps it is taken to tackle the cities appalling air quality.

A recent Birmingham University study found that the Welsh capital's air quality was worse than London.

London still has far higher total pollution but because people use buses and trains there is a smaller proportion of it lingering in the air.

High levels of pollution can cause a huge range of negative health implications including increase risks of cancer and lung disease as well as damaging immune and reproductive systems.  To combat this the council have been awarded £21 million by the Welsh Government to tackle the issue.

According to the council this money will be spent on four different projects aimed at driving down emissions:

  • a bus retrofitting programme to lower emissions,

  • taxi mitigation measures,

  • city centre transport improvements,

  • an active travel package making it easier for people to walk and cycle in the city centre.

Confused about what that means? You are not alone.

We went to Cardiff council to ask what specifically the cash will be spent on.

Buses

Buses in Cardiff will be retrofitted to make them greener (Image: Richard Williams/WalesOnline)

The plan for the buses in Cardiff is twofold.

The grant will see 40 of the older buses retrofitted with catalytic converters which means they will meet the "Euro 6 engine emission standards". This is forecast to cost £2.25m compared with the previous estimate of £1.8m. According to the council the increase in the cost is due to this scheme being made available to all bus operators.

There are also plans to introduce electric buses though the money for them will come from the "Ultra-Low Emission Bus Fund" from the Department of Transport and will be match funded by a council loan to Cardiff Bus rather than a funding bid to the Clean Air Fund.

Taxis

£1.86m will be spent to encourage greener cabs (Image: WalesOnline/Rob Browne)

The council also plans to reduce the amount of highly-polluting taxis in Cardiff.

Initially the council planned to provide funding to assist taxi drivers with the purchase of hybrid or electric vehicles.

However following legal advice it is understood funding can only be provided for the running/operating costs of electric or hybrid vehicles.

A target has been set for 30% of the taxi trade to switch to either hybrid or electric vehicles through the revised taxi policy. This was originally estimated to cost £5.5m, this has now reduced to £1.86m. 

Active travel

A Next Bike being used in Cardiff (Image: Next Bike)

Active travel is basically walking and cycling. The council is keen for more people to walk and cycle to and around the city centre.

The funding bid for active travel was initially estimated to be £4.2m but has been reduced to £1.28m.

The reason for the reduction is because the council has secured through an alternative grant after outlining the business case for potential changes.

City centre schemes

The vast majority of the £21m will be going on the extensive changes to the city centre.

Last week the council announced major changes to both Castle Street and Westgate Street and the city centre loop to allow for better and more efficient movement of buses and increasing active travel capacity in the city centre.

Originally projected to cost £18.9m, this has reduced to £15.2m (of the £21m grant), as alternative grant funding has been received for part of the scheme. 

These images show the plans for the city centre roads:

The changes proposed for the Cardiff city centre 'loop' (Image: Cardiff council)
The changes proposed for the Cardiff city centre 'loop' (Image: Cardiff council)

Speaking about the grant, Cardiff councillor Caro Wild, cabinet member for strategic planning and transport, said: "This is very welcome news indeed and will enable us to get to work improving air quality in the city centre, especially around Castle Street, which surveys show was most likely to breach EU pollution limits by 2021. Everyone living, working and visiting Cardiff has the right to breathe in clean air and this grant will allow us to put in place measures which will reduce pollution.

"Air pollution on Castle Street is the symptom of a wider problem which extends far beyond this stretch of road. We may be within legal limits across the city, but the cleaner we can make the air the better it will be for everyone. Next week we will publish a 10-year vision for transport which will build on this announcement, delivering a greener city for residents and future generations."


Read full article on Wales


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