Air quality consultation – big majority back reduction in private car use
Published: 24 September 2018
The results of a major public consultation on proposals to improve air quality and cut traffic congestion in Exeter have been revealed by the City Council.
Thousands of people took part in the three month consultation on the city’s Draft Air Quality Action Plan, between February and May this year.
The plan sets out a range of proposals to improve air quality in the city, reduce exposure to air pollution and improve health and quality of life.
It aims to discourage private car use and increase use of public transport, cycling and walking, in partnership with others. Businesses will be supported in changing travel habits and reducing emissions.
During the consultation, a total of 2,873 surveys were completed. Of those, 1,722 were completed online, while 1,100 took part in street surveys with consultants.
Key findings include a big majority (88 per cent) agreeing that air quality should be treated as a public health priority. Two thirds of respondents backed a cut in the number of private car journeys.
A big majority (80 per cent) backed an expansion of park and ride sites, while 61 per cent supported restrictions on accessing certain parts of the city for certain types or ages of vehicles.
An overwhelming big majority (82 per cent) agreed that making public space more attractive will encourage people to be more active. Nearly three quarters (72 per cent) agreed that active and healthy people will use active and healthy travel options.
A series of focus groups featuring residents and businesses were also held. And a public consultation event at Exeter Guildhall in March was attended by around 350 people. Groups and individuals also made separate written submissions, and all of the material has been carefully analysed.
The full findings of the completed surveys are listed below.
Cllr Rosie Denham, lead councillor for City Transformation, said: “We are delighted with the response to the consultation from the public, both residents and visitors to the city. It was great to hear their views on how best to cut congestion and improve air quality.
“The good news is that air quality is improving in Exeter. But we know there is still much work to do to tackle pollution hotspots and ensure healthy air quality for everyone in our city.
“It is extremely encouraging that the majority of residents not only want to see action to improve air quality but also support the principle of interventions such as closing certain roads or parts of the city to vehicles.”
She added: “We know that practical alternatives need to be in place so that far greater numbers are able to switch from private car use to public transport, or healthier journeys by cycling or walking.
“We are now working to finalise the revised Air Quality Action Plan, so that it can be in place by the end of the year.”
A revised AQAP is expected to proceed through the democratic process in November.
Results of the survey on the Draft Air Quality Action Plan: (sample size 2,873)
66 per cent agreed that the impact of private cars needs to be reduced by reducing numbers of journeys
The vast majority (88 per cent) agreed air quality should be treated as a public health priority
More than half (55 per cent) back a switch to electric cars
58 per cent support measures to reduce the attractiveness of driving into the city centre
Measures to increase the attractiveness of travel by means other than private car is strongly supported - by 90 per cent
A majority (52 per cent) disagree with increasing the cost of driving into the city centre - a third (33 per cent) agree with measure
More than half (55 per cent) would support closure of roads to through traffic if their neighbourhood if there are improvements to public transport
A similar number would back the same measure if there were improvements to walking routes (53 per cent) and improvements to cycle routes (53 per cent)
A big majority (80 per cent) support an increase in park and ride sites. Almost three quarters (73 per cent) believe the move would cut private car journeys from those living outside the city
More than half (53 per cent) supported the aim of reducing the impact of travel for business purposes. Only 26 per cent disagreed
61 per cent support restrictions on accessing certain parts of the city for certain types or ages of vehicles. Only 27 per cent disagreed
41 per cent agreed that businesses within a defined area should pay a fee for private vehicle parking, 34 per cent opposed the measure
76 per cent thought developers should be held to account if developments create more traffic than predicted in planning applications
82 per cent agree that making public space more attractive will encourage people to be more active. Nearly three quarters (72 per cent) agree that active and healthy people will use active and healthy travel options