Lowest levels of air pollution ever since introduction of Bradford Clean Air Zone

The Government directed Bradford to introduce a Clean Air Zone (CAZ) nearly 12 months ago in order to improve illegally high levels of air pollution. Everyone in the district will benefit from cleaner air, we will see a reduction in the associated health risks of air pollution and relieve pressure on the NHS.

Bradford has been working on projects to improve air quality following the 2020 Ministerial Direction to implement a Class C+ CAZ and has distributed grants worth £20,486,001 to residents and businesses. Thanks to businesses and transport operators taking advantage of grants and investing in upgrading their vehicles we have seen significant improvements in air quality levels.

The graph below shows monthly data from automatic monitoring sites in the Clean Air Zone, our most accurate equipment. This shows some of the lowest levels of NO2 recorded since records began in Bradford, this is despite traffic now returning to pre-pandemic levels.

Our automatic monitoring sites have provided supplementary data showing that concentrations of NO2 have remained stable at monitoring stations outside the CAZ and continue to be well within the legal limits set by Government.

Market Street in the city centre is showing NO2 levels reduced from 45 in 2021 to 39 (below the legal limit of 40) in 2022. This early upgrade of buses and taxis has meant that we can now see air pollution improvements in this area of the city where there is a high pedestrian flow.

We have seen over 65 million journeys to date in the Bradford Clean Air Zone, with thanks to vehicle upgrades the non-compliant vehicle journey rate has dropped from 3.6 percent of all journeys in summer 2022 to 1.5 percent at the end of July 2023. This means that per month only 1.5 percent of approximately 7 million vehicle journeys into the CAZ are chargeable.

Compliant vans have increased from 50 percent to 70 percent while larger vehicles like articulated lorries have increased from around 80 percent compliant to 97 percent. Our Bradford taxi fleet is 99 percent compliant, the cleanest fleet in the country, mainly comprised of hybrid electric vehicles. Our bus operators now have 317 newly compliant buses, with funding for new electric buses in place for later this year.

Bradford Council is using its CAZ revenue solely on projects to further improve air quality in the district. The first major project is the Clean Air Schools Programme to support schools in reducing traffic emissions, this includes a £500,000 grant fund for schools and an anti-idling awareness raising campaign supported by enforcement measures.

Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Leader of Bradford Council said,

“We all have a moral, environmental, and legal responsibility to make Bradford’s air cleaner and improve the health of our residents and visitors.

“We want to thank businesses and transport partners who were using the grants available to upgrade vehicles in advance of the launch of the CAZ. It’s good to see these measures translating into improvements in air quality.”

“The number of non-compliant vehicles has fallen due to vehicles upgrades and changes to fleet composition, this improves air quality not just in Bradford but throughout West Yorkshire.”

“Grants are still available to Bradford businesses and residents who wish to upgrade non-compliant vehicles along with specific grants to assist taxi drivers to switch to electric vehicles.”