York’s air quality did not improve last year, said an author of a report into the state of the city’s pollution.
However, it is not just cars causing the stagnation, according to public protection manager Mike Southcombe, but domestic and commercial heating too.
An executive meeting for environment and climate emergency on 5 July shared the findings of a report on York’s air quality in 2022.
“Pollution concentration in most areas were broadly similar to 2021 but remained lower than pre-pandemic levels of 2019,” said Mr Southcombe.
“Having said that, air quality meets the health-based air quality objectives across most areas of York except for three technical breach areas within the city centre which include the following roads: Gillygate, Bootham, St Leonard’s Place, Blossom Street, and Rougier Street.”
The report found the highest concentration of nitrogen dioxide in an area where somebody lives or spends a long period of time was 47 micrograms per metre cubed in Gillygate, seven micrograms per metre cubed over the limit.
Mr Southcombe said: “Although historically they’ve been affected by traffic pollution, they aren’t the only source of pollution.
“I’m more and more finding that it’s other sources such as domestic heating and commercial heating that’s impacting on it in particular.”
But a member of the public Flick Williams said: “What is not mentioned anywhere in the report is the trend toward the growth of street food vans and vendors using diesel generators for hours and hours at a time within the footstreets area.”
Cllr Dave Merrett added: “I think what [the report] says is we need some additional actions, particularly to tackle the hotspots that aren’t moving.”
He said: “Both sides of the city centre have large amounts of terraced housing.
“Oxfordshire has been undertaking a trial for cross pavement charging facilities outside people’s houses which would be an enormous boom to allowing people who live in those areas purchase electric vehicles without having to trek enormous distances to actually charge their vehicles.”
York’s third ‘Air Quality Action Plan’ will see more electric buses, discouragement of idling vehicles and the continuation of the low emission taxi grant scheme.
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