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WE LOVE CLEAN AIR PROGRESS! 2023 lookback

Updated: Dec 30, 2023


Our 2023 Cleaner Air for Newcastle campaign was launched in January 2023. We've celebrated progress - but there are important loose ends to follow up in 2024.


Here's the headlines; below are details and links:

  • there's early evidence that Newcastle’s Clean Air Zone is reducing pollution and making air healthier for local residents

  • the CAZ scheme entered a second stage in July, requiring more vehicles to meet safer emission standards.

  • our 30 WAYS guide, developed by CAN supporters, has been used by hundreds of local people to decide how they can best help improve local air quality

  • we highlighted the value of monitoring data, and celebrated an artwork at the Baltic gallery that captures this - picture above!

  • BUT the badly needed new Metro trains did not arrive on time - leading to a rise in technical breakdowns, disrupted schedules and crowded carriages. Forty-six new trains are on order and being tested - here's details of what we can expect in 2024.


LOOKBACK BY KEY ORGANISATIONS AND PARTNERS, WITH LINKS

  • NEWCASTLE CITY COUNCIL: Throughout 2023, Climate Action Newcastle supporters and other climate campaign groups expressed the importance of clean air for the health of local residents, as well as for tackling climate breakdown.

Councillor Marion Williams, cabinet member for a connected, clean city at Newcastle City Council, sent this message at the end of 2023: 2023 has seen the city council, our residents and businesses take a number of important steps towards cleaner air.

“The launch of the Clean Air Zone in January has resulted in hundreds of businesses and taxi drivers investing in cleaner, less polluting vehicles, with over £2m paid out in vehicle upgrade grants to help towards this cost. We’re currently reviewing the grants scheme so that in 2024 we can provide financial support to more people looking to upgrade older vehicles and help cut harmful emissions.

Together with Sustrans, we’ve also continued our School Street trials, which have helped many children and their families enjoy safer, more active and less polluted journeys to school. I’m delighted that we were recently able to confirm that the trial at Hotspur Primary School, in Heaton, will be made permanent, with monitoring and evaluation of the remaining trials currently ongoing.

The impact of poor air quality on people’s health – particularly children’s health – is well documented and our commitment to tackling this issue will continue in 2024.”


  • SCIENCE: A leading air quality scientist confirmed that the first five months of the new zone saw a “significant” improvement in air quality. Professor Anil Namdeo, Northumbria University, said: “The analysis needs to be repeated for a longer duration, but these initial results indicate that measures like CAZ are steps in the right direction to tackle a complex environmental problem like air pollution.

He added: “Our initial analysis of the air quality data from urban background monitoring station at Newcastle Civic Centre has shown that air quality (NO2 concentrations) has improved significantly over the Feb-June period in 2023 when compared to the similar period in 2022. Real progress is possible with the right commitment from local and national governments.”


ART: Local artist Cameron Lings created Repercussions to illustrate peaks and troughs of pollution near the Tyne Bridge over 12 months. The acrylic, aluminium and concrete work is installed on the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art’s Level 4 Viewing Terrace, close to the kittiwake nesting area.

CAN marked the July CAZ expansion next to the work. Convener Jacky Doran said: “Because we can’t SEE the high levels of pollution that cause deaths and a wide range of harms to health, monitoring data has been vital to show us all why change was needed. We were delighted to find that a local artist made this connection and was inspired to create his work. Positioning it close to the world’s most inland kittiwake colony is a brilliant way to show how wildlife, as well as local people, are benefitting from these improvements.


  • "RIDE FOR THEIR LIVES" CAMPAIGN: Dr Heather Lambert, a recently retired Newcastle paediatrician, worked with CAN to welcome the CAZ arrival in January : "The science demonstrating the devastating effects of air pollution on health, is clear and we believe it is our responsibility to keep repeating the health arguments to support those making good infrastructure changes and to help convince those who doubt the importance of controversial changes like clean air zones and low traffic neighbourhoods. "

In addition to cycling, the campaign has spoken on TV and radio, talked to journalists, written letters and attended parliamentary meetings. In September, Heather spoke at a  Newcastle Council meeting. "We will keep up the dialogue and pressure to advocate for every child's right to breath clean air." See why Tyneside medical campaigners support change here' and info about Ride for Their Lives here.


  • CAN CLEANER AIR CAMPAIGN COMMENT: organiser Olwyn Hocking said: “Monitoring data from other parts of the country where clean air changes came in earlier has shown that air pollution has reduced. Local high levels of air pollution put us all at risk – it’s the biggest environmental risk each of us faces every day. Just as we all welcome drivers looking after the safety of their cars by having annual MOTs, we also welcome the changes people are making so their car emissions safer as well.” Campaign 2023 overview here.


BACKGROUND INFO AND LINKS


  • Clean Air Walk and Ride for Their Lives in January welcome Newcastle’s Clean Air Zone – links and pictures here:


  • Evidence from monitoring of low traffic zones: Oxford data here.

  • Professor Anil Namdeo biog: Professor of Air Quality Management, Northumbria University’s Department of Geography and Environmental Sciences. Chartered Environmentalist and Chartered Scientist, Professor Namdeo is a Fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society (FRMetS) and a Fellow of the Institute of Air Quality Management, having worked extensively in Africa, Asia, Europe and South America. UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) SPF Clean Air Champions Team appointed him Regional Clean Air Champion (RCAC) for the area covering East Midlands to North East of England. The position is one of only five across the UK.

  • Newcastle City Council website links:

Full details about vehicle upgrade grants can be found at www.breathe-cleanair.com/grants. Only vehicles that do not meet national emissions standards will be affected by CAZ charges. This means vans and LGVs must have a Euro 6 diesel (registered after September 2016) or a Euro 4 petrol engine (registered after January 2006). People can check whether their vehicle is compliant at www.gov.uk/clean-air-zones. The daily CAZ charge for non-compliant vans is £12.50 and details on how to pay can be found at www.breathe-cleanair.com/how-to-pay.


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