Operators have taken part in clean air talks arranged by the CPT. The event saw representatives from DEFRA and DfT discuss the forthcoming proposals for mandatory clean air zones in Birmingham, Derby, Leeds, Nottingham and Southampton, which are due to come into operation in 2020. The base level for these was being proposed at Euro6. It was argued that applying this restriction to just buses and taxis would not immediately enhance air quality to meet the Governments targets. The operators present highlighted it was overall traffic congestion that mainly contributed to poor air quality and stressed that unless this was addressed nothing will change.
A number of local political decisions were mentioned that had reversed congestion cutting bus priority measures and replaced them with slower journey times and more buses required to achieve the same timetable, effectively adding to pollution levels. DEFRA noted there was a role for retrofit technology to play in upgrading older Euro engine buses to meet the new requirements. It was hoped to have everything in place including secondary legislation by the end of 2019 ready for a 2020 implementation date. DEFRA highlighted that the consultation document on each of the schemes would be out very soon and urged responses. They also encouraged everyone to ensure they engaged with and worked with their local councils who were drawing up and deciding upon the finer points of each clean air zone.