The European directives (96/62/EC and 99/30/EC) on air quality define the policy framework and set limits for key pollutants in ambient air. In the UK these limits have been accepted as national objectives in the Air Quality Strategy published in 2000. A key part of the strategy requires local authorities to draw up air quality action plans. These plans play an important role in cutting road transport emissions since road transport is a major source of the local air pollution.
The core of CATCH was the development and implementation of an innovative, partnership-based approach to transport-related environment policy in Liverpool, a major UK city undergoing radical land use development allied to economic regeneration. To this aim the project planned to:
- Support the Community’s Sixth Environmental Action Programme by promoting sustainable mobility;
- Significantly improve urban air quality;
- Implement advanced pollution monitoring techniques in Liverpool city centre;
- Significantly expand the use of clean fuels in public transport and local authority vehicle fleets;
- Contribute to the EC’s Kyoto commitments by reducing emissions of greenhouse gases;
- Disseminate the results of the project and promote best practice; and
- Transfer knowledge and experience to Accession Countries and Southern Europe through the participation of partners from Romania and Italy.
The project was innovative in a number of aspects notably in using a new technology to monitor air pollution levels, employing hybrid buses in local transport setting and developing healthy travel plans at the community level. In detail, the activities undertaken during the project period and results achieved included the following:
- The local transport and land-use planning authorities in Liverpool worked in partnership with local bus companies to undertake substantial investment in clean fuel technologies.
- Emissions reduction has been achieved in Liverpool through inter alia converting 10% of the buses in Liverpool to use clean fuels.
- Furthermore, 104 particulate traps and 16 exhaust gas recirculation were deployed on buses within the Arriva North West and Wales fleet (data indicated possible reductions of particulate by approximately 90% and of nitrogen dioxide emission by 35%) and six hybrid buses were purchased.
In a Romanian City (Suceava) reductions were achieved through the purchase of two liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cars, promotion of LPG as a fuel, the fitting of ten particulate traps and the refurbishment of ten trolleybuses. The partners developed a radical Air Quality Management policy in which:
- Polluting vehicles could be banned from defined areas.
- Land-use development and associated policies are now required to focus on how end users will reduce their need to travel.
- Transport management practitioners have focused on improving public transport, cycling and walking facilities.
This policy was supported by the design of walking and cycling infrastructure support measures as part of Liverpool City Council’s city centre movement strategy (CCMS). CATCH contributed specifically towards the design phase of some of the walking and cycling initiatives, such as wider street crossings, on-road cycle routes, enhanced pedestrian areas and phased pedestrian priority signals. In total, the City Centre Improvements have exceeded expectations at 13.1%, unfortunately the improvement expected from the cycling and walking measures were less obvious. The CATCH partners have promoted environment-friendly transport practices within the wider local community through: o Pro-active measures to spread the use of clean fuels by the ECOtravel bureau (a one stop shop established for sustainable travel information in Liverpool aimed at the local community and business groups); o Implementing Community Mobility Plans incorporating sustainable transport modes in partnership with community groups and housing providers; and o Working with regeneration companies to promote environmental objectives in development plans. Especially the work of the ECOTravel bureau on Liverpool improved the local community’s understanding of the impacts of personal travel decisions on air quality, quality of life and the urban environment.
Innovative pollution monitoring techniques have been used to support the project. (A closed-circuit television-based system using light scattering techniques was used and cameras were positioned at fixed sites within the city and on the buses themselves, enabling the mapping of places and times of high concentrations of particulates). In Liverpool, these techniques successfully demonstrated a main development in terms of providing an enhanced method of assessing the environmental impacts of transport and land-use measures. The system’s further development and deployment as a real time pollution-mapping tool could be used under national air quality monitoring protocols. Project impacts have been evaluated, including technical performance, public acceptance, impacts on travel behaviour, environment and health, economics, wider policy implications and transferability.delivered by the project measures and the even greater potential for their wider implementation.
However, reduction in greenhouse gases has been disappointing. The direct impact of the project in Liverpool has been an increase in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of 279 tonnes per year. However, the project’s evaluation showed that a wider implementation would actually result in a reduction of 50,939 tonnes per year assuming implementation of effective, wider behavioural communications campaigns based on the CATCH healthy travel promotion and replacement of the oldest vehicles operating with hybrid buses which can deliver the CO2 savings that have been demonstrated under laboratory conditions.
Concerning the long-term sustainability of the project, an emissions analysis of the wider application of measures in Liverpool focusing on community initiatives aimed at changing travel behaviour showed that community initiatives need to be accompanied by strong awareness campaigns and improved city centre infrastructure to be effective on a wider scale. Transferability to Candidate Countries has been demonstrated, based on collaboration with a Romanian city (Suceava) and transferability to Southern Europe through collaboration with a regional public transport operator in Italy (CTP Napoli, using the city of Potenza as a test case). Both areas developed comparable packages of measures but on a smaller scale than in Liverpool. Suceava did an excellent job of testing the measures it considered most appropriate to its local circumstances but also disseminating the message further in its regional sphere of influence. In general, the whole project was dependent upon improved collaboration between a range of public and private sector organisations aimed at reducing the environmental impacts of transport.
The large scale demonstration of ways to improve ambient air quality using sustainable mobility policies in Liverpool was important in order to make the noticeable differences to air quality that are needed to make other stakeholders integrate environmental considerations into transport planning and development processes. The air quality benefits of the project have been demonstrated in terms of the significant emissions reductions.