Lorry ban and cleaner cabs under council's anti-pollution plans

LORRIES could be banned from a key main road and taxi drivers encouraged to swap their cabs for cleaner vehicles under plans to cut pollution and clean up the borough’s air - which kills up to 100 people per year.

Rotherham Borough Council will consider proposals to reduce pollution in response to Government criticism of the area’s atmosphere.

A report by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) named Rotherham among 29 authorities persistently breaching nitrogen oxide (NOx) limits.

Emitted by road traffic, the gas aggravates lung and heart conditions and can cause premature death.

National research has led to a National Air Quality Plan, but the report warned: “It is for local authorities to develop innovative local plans that will achieve [limits] within the shortest possible time.”

Routes in and around Rotherham with particularly high nitrogen oxide levels include the A630 Sheffield Parkway, Rawmarsh Hill, Fitzwilliam Road, Wortley Road and Upper Wortley Road.

Proposals to curb pollution include:

  • Lorries being banned from travelling northbound on Wortley Road and Upper Wortley Road, towards the M1.
  •  Encouragement of cleaner buses on Rawmarsh Hill and Fitzwilliam Road, plus the diversion of buses away from Rawmarsh Hill to Barbers Avenue.
  • Van and taxi drivers being supported to swap their vehicles for less polluting ones.
  • A 50mph speed limit on the eastern part of the Parkway, which could also help to reduce congestion at junction 33 of the motorway.

Cllr Emma Hoddinott, the council’s cabinet member for waste, roads and community safety, said: “These are practical proposals which should ensure that the council meets its legal requirements whilst keeping our commitment not to propose a congestion charge in Rotherham.

“If they are accepted by the Government, these proposals will mean new, cleaner buses on key routes and support for cleaner taxis and light good vehicles, improving air quality whilst also protecting our local economy.”

Cabinet members will discuss the plans on Monday, before they are put to a public consultation.

The authority has until 2021 to find and implement effective solutions to the nitrogen oxide problem.

A 2014 study commissioned by Rotherham Council found that air pollution increases the rates of heart disease in residents under 75, increases the incidence of childhood asthma and raises the rate of low-weight births.

Unclean air also increases hospital admissions and visits to A&E, the survey found.

Report author Tom Smith, the authority’s assistant director for community safety, said: “There is categorical evidence that long-term exposure to everyday air pollutants contributes to cardiovascular disease, lung cancer and respiratory disease.

“In Rotherham, it is estimated that poor air quality directly contributes to over 100 deaths per year and affects the quality of life for people across the borough.”

A Sheffield study determined that inner city congestion charging will be needed to meet Government NOx targets by 2021 - but a similar survey in Rotherham found that no such congestion charge will be needed.