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Pollution and air quality

Low Emission Strategy

The most significant local source of pollution in our borough that we can influence is vehicle emissions. A Low Emission Strategy (LES) has been approved to address the health impacts of poor air quality. The primary objective of the LES is to reduce traffic emissions.

We can do this by promoting sustainable transport which includes the use of low emission vehicles and technology. We can also discourage the use of high emitting vehicles where possible.

The LES is based upon three key principles for the reduction of emissions:

  • Shift - change mode of transport from cars to public transport, cycling or walking
  • Avoid - reduce the distance driven, reduce emissions from stationary vehicles, chimneys and construction
  • Improve - improve our use of the latest vehicle technology to reduce emissions (specifically low emission vehicles)

Air quality

Air quality across Cheshire West and Chester is generally good but there are a few locations where recommended levels have been exceeded. As a result, three Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) have been declared due to nitrogen dioxide emissions from road traffic:

  • Whitby Road/Station Road in Ellesmere Port
  • Chester city centre
  • Fluin Lane in Frodsham

Another pollutant of concern is particulate matter, known as PM10 and PM2.5 (small particles less than 10 and 2.5 micrometres in size), which can be inhaled deep into the lungs.

Particulate matter comes from different sources including vehicle exhausts, open fires, wood burning stoves and natural sources. Although this doesn't exceed the standards locally, there is a significant health impact. Any reduction in airborne levels will deliver improvements in people’s health.

The LES will deliver projects across the borough. It will also complement individual Air Quality Action Plans (AQAPs) needed for each AQMA.

Electric Vehicle Charge Points

The LES seeks to encourage the uptake of electric vehicles in the borough and one way of doing this is to install electric vehicle charge points (EVCPs) for the use of residents, visitors and businesses. From May 2021, six council car parks close to areas where residents lack off-street parking, have been equipped with EVCPs, ideal for overnight or long-stay charging. Each car park below has two double-socket ‘fast’ chargers, enabling four EVs to charge at once:

  • Bishop Street car park - Chester
  • Brook Street car park - Chester
  • Shrewsbury Road car park - Ellesmere Port
  • Moor Lane car park - Frodsham
  • Chester Road car park - Neston
  • Park Street car park – Northwich

We have also installed two rapid 50 kilowatt EVCPs and a fast charger outside the boat museum in Ellesmere Port. Being close to the M53 and Stanlow, the rapid chargers are well suited to quick top-ups by passing trades, taxi drivers and the general public. Details and locations of all these chargers, as well as the wider networks of EVCPs can be viewed on Zap Map.

A breath of fresh air anti-idling campaign

Turning your engine off when waiting can help improve air quality and protect your health.

One of our key priorities to help the borough thrive is to have clean, safe and sustainable neighbourhoods. This includes tackling air pollution.

The most important local source of air pollution in the borough that we can influence is pollution caused by vehicle emissions. The primary objective of our Low Emission Strategy is to reduce these emissions in order to improve the environment and the health of our residents.

You can find more information on our anti-idling myth busting webpage.

What can you do to help?

Drivers can avoid adding to unnecessary emissions by not leaving their engine running while waiting. It’s called ‘stationary idling’ and it is already an offence under the Road Traffic Act.

The facts

  • Excessive idling is a waste of fuel and money, resulting in unnecessary negative environmental and health impacts
  • Fuel can represent 35% of your running costs, maybe even more
  • Air pollution is linked to 40,000 early deaths in the UK each year
  • People inside cars can be exposed to higher levels of air pollution than pedestrians or cyclists using the same road.
  • Children and the elderly are especially at risk of harmful effects of air pollution.
  • An idling vehicle emits much more pollution than one travelling at 30mph.
  • For each litre of fuel used by a diesel engine, 2.64 kg of CO2 is released into the atmosphere.
  • Fleet operators can expect fuel savings of up to 5% by adopting anti-idling practices

Enforcing idling vehicles

Council officers have powers to enforce stationary idling under The Road Traffic (Vehicles Emissions) (Fixed Penalty) (England) Regulations 2002.

Drivers who leave their engines running may be asked by a civil enforcement officer to switch off their engine.

If a driver does not comply with a request, they may be issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice if the offence takes place on the highway or Penalty Charge Notice if it takes place in a council owned car park. These regulations cover all vehicles on public roads including private cars, motorbikes, delivery vehicles, taxis and buses.

They do not apply to vehicles:

  • Moving slowly due to road works or congestion
  • Stopped at traffic lights
  • Under test or repair
  • Where the windscreen is being defrosted
  • Where machinery on a vehicle requires the engine to be running. For example compaction equipment in a refuse vehicle or a tail lift that cannot be operated by the battery on board

Fixed Penalty and Penalty Charge Notices

The full penalty amount for a Fixed Penalty Notice is £40. The reduced penalty charge is £20 if paid within 28 working days. After 56 days the driver may be prosecuted for the offence and if convicted could receive a larger fine up to £1000.

A Penalty Charge Notice is £50 and is reduced to £25 if paid within 14 calendar days. Unpaid charges can ultimately be passed to an Enforcement Agency to recover, who will add their own costs.