Guidelines for councils on cutting public sector fleet emissions, introducing clean air zones and mitigating road-traffic-related air pollution have been published by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).
The guidance gives advice on developing clean air zones, particularly in areas where vulnerable people congregate.
Following the publication two months ago of draft air quality plans that put the focus on councils to tackle air pollution, leading to accusations that the Government is “abdicating responsibility”, the guidance from NICE, also developed by Public Health England (PHE), gives advice on developing clean air zones, including encouraging uptake of zero- and low-emission vehicle, and taking action to reduce emissions within the clean air zone, for example ‘no vehicle idling’ zones, particularly in areas where vulnerable people congregate.
It also suggests driver training, infrastructure measures such as speed limits and using a fleet recognition scheme.
The guidelines also look at reducing emissions from public sector transport services and vehicle fleets, with suggested measures including introducing fuel-efficient driving as part of any test carried out when appointing or re-appraising staff who drive as part of their work, eco driver training for staff and using telematics to provide information on driving styles, backed up by a rewards programme.
Councils are also urged to consider making low emissions a key criterion in procurement decisions, including a focus on electric vehicles.
The guidance comes as the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) publishes its 2017 report Meeting Carbon Budgets: Closing the Policy Gap, which raises concerns regarding the likelihood of targets set out Climate Change Act 2008 being met.
In particular, the CCC recommends that the Government urgently delivers a plan to continue reducing emissions across the economy including: plans to accelerate the uptake of electric vehicles.
Commenting on the report, Professor Paul Cosford, PHE’s director of health protection and medical director, said: “We need a concerted effort to address the health impacts of air pollution and this report shows there are steps we can all take to help tackle it.
“Councils can include low and zero emission strategies in their plans. For example, providing charging points for electric vehicles and introducing Clean Air Zones which can include restrictions or charges for certain types of high polluting vehicles.
“The bulk of initiatives recommended by NICE and PHE are aimed at local authority staff working in transport, planning and public health. However, the guidance also seeks to raise awareness amongst the general public. If implemented the guidance will work to reduce air pollution caused by road traffic specifically.”