Clean Air Zones – the right solution?

Much has been made of the recent improvements in air quality as a consequence of the movement restrictions from COVID-19. However, these reductions are likely to be temporary as industry and transport networks recover from the effects of shutdowns over the longer term. Something longer term is needed.

Clear Air Zones have often been cited as such a longer term measure. However, delivering these is not so easy. A big reason is that vehicle checking services are giving unreliable results. Thus making enforcement of the CAZs unreliable – and at worst impossible.

Enforcement of air quality standards is not an easy task. Not only does the data have to be accurate, but it needs to be effectively targeted, and reflect the actual situation on the ground. It has been well-documented that actual emissions from the tailpipe can vary significantly to the stated standards. Not only is this difference experienced when comparing lab tests and real-world emissions (this was the scandal behind Volkswagen dieselgate). Even the so-called gold standard of clean diesel, Euro 6, can have a huge real-world emission variation between vehicle. This makes CAZs based on Euro emissions standards a poor approximation for enforcement.

Another significant issue that promoters of Clear Air Zones are facing is the question of where to best focus their efforts. Whilst their networks of monitoring stations give a general indication of broad areas of poor air quality, targeting the source of the problem is time-consuming or impossible. Especially when local authorities are already overwhelmed and stretched with their existing duties.

We have always stated that it is not just about having reliable and trustworthy information to make initiatives like CAZs work. Reliable and trustworthy data is surely a given. It is about having this data, with real-time information on breaches attributed to the vehicle. Targeting those that are contributing the most to our air quality issues.

We have seen from the challenges facing the deployment of CAZs, but targeted, reliable, real world monitoring producing reliable data leads to effective action. Action that is critical to deliver clean air.

We stand ready to help with this. Just give us a call.