St Albans second worst city in the UK for vehicle emissions

Traffic queuing on Holywell Hill

Traffic queuing on Holywell Hill - Credit: Archant

St Albans motorists’ desire for gas-guzzling high-powered sports cars, 4X4s and large people carriers have resulted in the city being named and shamed as one of the UK’s top polluters.

Fumes coming from a cars exhaust

Fumes coming from a cars exhaust - Credit: Archant

The city is second only to London when it comes to producing vehicle emissions, with a survey showing that motorists are failing to embrace greener living.

Findings from the probe, released last Friday, have been labelled as “bad news for our health” by Green Party district councillor Simon Grover. surveyed 2,000 motorists and ranked cities on a league table based on average emissions produced by each registered car across the UK, using data from a given postcode.

As a result, Peterborough emerged as the UK’s greenest city with 142.03g/km emissions per registered car.

At the other end of the spectrum London was the worst with 176.95g/km, followed by St Albans (165.52g/km), Brighton, Cambridge and Chelmsford.

Cllr Grover said: “This is bad news for our children’s health, but it’s also bad news for our pockets as these cars pay a lot more tax.”

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The survey showed that opinion was divided as to who should shoulder the responsibility when it comes to greener motoring, with many drivers deterred by the cost involved, and 37 per cent of respondents arguing that the Government should be doing more to make environmentally friendly cars more affordable.

Cllr Grover said that it was “very telling” more than half of respondents argued that councils should be doing more to promote carless travel in cities to help slash emissions.

He added: “That’s exactly what I’ve been pushing for. The good news is that St Albans district council is now looking at my suggestion of changing the fees for residents’ parking, to reward people for choosing cleaner cars.”

Cllr Grover is keen for the maximum number of permits per household to be reduced from three to two, and the price dependent on the emissions of a car instead of being a flat rate, so charges could relate directly to a car’s tax band.

He called upon the council to take the issue of pollution more seriously, as air quality in St Albans city centre has long been a bone of contention.

For example,The Peahen junction at the top of Holywell Hill is considered to be one of the most polluted in the country and was declared an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) 10 years ago.

Suggestions for improving the situation have included part-pedestrianising St Peter’s Street, or installing engine switch-off signs at the junction.

A recent environmental report to the council summarising district-wide carbon dioxide emissions says that the authority “does not have direct control of CO2 emissions.

“However we have an important role to play in encouraging and supporting residents and businesses to reduce emissions from energy and transport.”

The council has set itself a target of bringing about a three per cent reduction in district-wide CO2 emissions year-on-year, to achieve a 60 per cent decrease by 2025.

Richard Shwe, head of community services, said there was “lots of work underway” to ensure emissions decrease.