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Friends of the Earth > Local Groups > Nottingham Friends of the Earth

Nottingham needs more action on air pollution (Aug 2018)

Nottingham City Council has launched a consultation on what it proposes to do to tackle air pollution. You can respond until Monday 10 September 2018 at or to [email protected]

Actions proposed by the City which should be supported:

  • Action to stop vehicles idling, especially outside schools.
  • Strengthening the Clear Zone in the city centre to keep out the most polluting delivery vehicles.
  • Cleaner buses, taxis and council vehicles.

Some other points not mentioned by the Council which should be added:

  • Increased spending on making cycling and walking easier.
  • A scrappage scheme for dirty diesels - with options for people to shift to fully electric cars, electric bikes, or public transport season tickets.
  • More planting of trees and shrubs alongside roads.

Although the City is putting forward some useful proposals, it is not proposing any action to tackle the most polluting cars – which are the main problem on the ring road where traffic is increasing. However, the City has done a number of things in the past:

  • the Workplace Parking Levy to reduce car commuting, and help pay for the tram and other clean transport initiatives;
  • pedestrianising the city centre;
  • Nottingham City Transport now has much cleaner electric buses and gas buses, and is retrofitting its diesel buses to cleaner Euro 6 level.

This means traffic levels within the city have been reducing and pollution levels are falling. But pollution is still above World Health Organisation guidelines. The City Council says it supports these guidelines, but has failed to consult on how to achieve them.

Robin Hood supports a Clean Air ZoneNottingham hasn’t even yet achieved less ambitious EU limits for air pollution set 20 years ago. Many cities declared Air Quality Management Areas to control pollution due to traffic, including Nottingham in 2001.[1] But that has not been enough.

Since 2015, an activist legal group Client Earth has had to keep going back to the courts to force the UK government to act more urgently. That is why the City is now consulting. Please tell the City what you think!


Air pollution kills around 40,000 people in the UK every year, mostly from traffic pollution – including around 200 in Nottingham City and 600 in the rest of the County killed by air pollution every year.

It is estimated that particulates are associated with 29,000 deaths per year in the UK, and nitrogen dioxide with 23,500 deaths. Because of overlap between these figures the overall total is around 40,000 with a cost to society over £20bn each year.

The Director of Public Health reported on the impact of air pollution to the City Wellbeing Board in October 2014. Actions suggested included:

  • Nearly 80% of car trips under five miles could be replaced by walking, cycling or using public transport;
  • Promote active travel amongst local authority staff and major employers
  • Improve street environments to prioritise walkability over cars;
  • Inform susceptible individuals of the risks of air pollution and how to take avoiding action;
  • Organise ‘eco-driving’ training for taxi drivers, for example to avoid engine idling;
  • Replace boilers with least polluting models;
  • Ensure new buildings are air quality neutral;
  • Make full use of local authority powers to regulate types of traffic and traffic flows.

Friends of the Earth recommendations for individuals include:

  • Leave the car at home (one trial found that car drivers are exposed to twice the air pollution compared to walking the same route, and 8 times the exposure of cycling);
  • Walk away from the road edge;
  • Avoid congested routes whether in a car or bus, cycling or walking;
  • If driving, when stopped turn off the engine;
  • Take note of pollution alerts;
  • To reduce indoor air pollution: open windows, use natural cleaning products (and avoid air fresheners), don’t smoke, maintain boilers and cookers;
  • Note that plants and trees catch air pollution so prefer walking through green areas – and get planting!

[1] Nottingham City currently has two Air Quality Management Areas – covering roads around the city centre and Dunkirk Island on the ring road. There are also AQMAs in surrounding boroughs:

  • Rushcliffe – roads leading to Trent Bridge
  • Gedling – A60, Daybrook
  • Broxtowe – next to M1 at Trowell and Nuthall
  • Erewash – next to M1 at Long Eaton and Sandiacre