"Improving Air Quality in the City" 15th February 2019

‘Improving Air Quality in the City’ afternoon network event hosted by The Future Economy Network.


On Friday 15th Feb 2019, The Future Economy Network hosted an afternoon Air Quality Network event, welcoming speakers from Hydrock, the University of the West of England (UWE) and Life Cycle UK. Director of The Future Economy Network, Katherine Piper opened the event, highlighting the benefits of subscribing to the Network, sharing exciting news about The Future Economy Group’s move to their new sustainability hub, advising of their upcoming Festival of Sustainable Business and introducing new members of the team; Richard Murphy (Director of Recruitment), Lauren Elliott (Festival Coordinator) and Phoebe Bruford (Events and Subscriptions Officer).  

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This was followed by welcoming Blaise Kelly, Senior Air Quality Consultant at Hydrock.  Blaise spoke about the discrepancies in Clean Air Zone (CAZ) categorisations with some vehicles classified as Euro 6 not even meeting the Euro 3 standards. He went on to speak about the more robust vehicle analytics via the EQUA Air Quality Index and highlighted that whilst CAZs should reduce NOx emissions, they will do little to reduce CO2 emissions. Blaise ended by discussing the work Hydrock are doing around synchronising traffic signals to aid more efficient fuel consumption.

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We then welcomed Graham Parkhurst, Professor of Sustainable Mobility and Director of the Centre for Transport and Society at UWE. Graham gave a brief overview of the Fuel Duty Escalator, the Road Traffic Reduction Act 1997, the reduction in road building after 1997 and the Transport Act 2000. He went on to stress that it is diesel cars that are the largest road vehicle emitters of NOx (40% versus 4% for petrol) and showcased some  of Bristol’s transport innovations such as their 2 diesel-electric buses and freight consolidation services. Graham stressed that the CAZ was an imperfect solution and instead there should be consideration of electric public transport, the Bristol underground, a workplace parking levy and congestion charging zones.

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Finally, we welcomed Poppy Brett, CEO of Life Cycle UK. Poppy spoke about how air quality is not a single issue and there are many co-benefits to increasing the uptake of cycling. She highlighted that within Bristol, it is a lot quicker to travel by bike and there are associated health benefits. Poppy explained that there are some challenges to overcome if more people are to take up cycling. There is a perception that it is dangerous, for example, but in fact cycling bears no greater risk than walking. Life Cycle UK run a refurbished bike scheme which gets around the issue of not having a bike and there are also bike maintenance sessions. Finally, to get around the issue of security, Life Cycle UK can offer free cycle parking for businesses.

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The event ended with some lively networking over coffee and cake! We would like to offer sincere thanks to all of our speakers for a very informative afternoon. Also, a huge thank you to all attendees – we hope you found it an interesting event and came away with some useful insights/collaborations.


The Future Economy Network look forward to seeing you at another event soon!