Questions and answers on the clean air project


Why is the Council considering measures to improve air quality in Cardiff?

The Welsh Government along with the UK and other devolved governments were challenged in the High Court by ClientEarth about excess Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) levels in parts of the UK, including Wales. ClientEarth were successful in the court proceedings and in January 2018 the Welsh Government made a legal agreement with ClientEarth to take action to bring the levels of NO2down to the permitted levels in the ‘shortest time possible'.

What's that got to do with Cardiff?

In line with the agreement with Client Earth, the Welsh Government legally instructed Cardiff Council to conduct a study in the city to find out how NO2levels can be reduced in the ‘shortest time possible'.

What was the result of the study into NO2 pollution in the city then?

The initial study has identified that by 2021, Castle Street will be in breach of the EU Directive and some other roads being areas of concern.-

What will the solution be?

As set out in the legal direction from the Welsh Government, an Outline Business Case has been produced which compares a short list of measures against a charging clean air zone. The Outline Business Case has concluded that the list of measures will bring NO2 levels down to compliant levels without the need for a CAZ. The list of the measures are:

  • Implementation of electric buses to replace the oldest and most polluting buses
  • Introduction of a Bus Retrofitting Scheme for bus operators in Cardiff to upgrade older buses so they meet Euro 6 engine emission standards
  • Major changes to both Castle Street and Westgate Street and the city centre loop to is to allow for better and more efficient movement of public transport (buses) and increase active travel capacity in the City Centre.
  • Review and implement a revised taxi policy to ensure that all applications to grant a ‘new vehicle license' or for a ‘change of a vehicle on a current license' are only approved for vehicles that meet the latest Euro 6 emission standards
  • Improvements to Active Travel and increased 20 mph areas.


What is the status of these projects? Have they been approved?

At this stage they are being proposed to cabinet as a concept. The Licensing Public Protection Committee have approved a consultation with the trade and public on the proposed changes to taxi licensing policy. The individual schemes and the associated design will be presented to cabinet for approval at a future date and any statutory consultation that is required for any Traffic Regulation Order will have to be undertaken.

What is being done to help people take up active travel?

There are lots of improvements already in the pipeline:

  •           Cardiff Council has ambitious plans to improve walking and cycle routes across the city over the next 3 years.
  •           The nextbike public cycle hire scheme in Cardiff has shown pent-up demand in cycling in the City, and has been hugely successful. Over 10,000 hires are being made each week, with over 36,000 people registered to use the bikes. They are great for replacing short trips around the city you may previously have used a car for, and it's easy, quick and fun.
  •           Cardiff Bus recently introduced contactless payment - if you don't always carry spare change on you this can make a huge difference as you can simply tap to pay when you get on.
  •           South Wales Metro - the development of the Metro over the next 5 years will see increased frequency of trains, new stations, and new and additional carriages with more space for bikes.

Additional proposals are described in the Cardiff Council's Transport and Clean Air green paper .

Through these schemes there are plans to transform Cardiff's transport system over the next 5 years into one fit for the 21stCentury, ranking with other leading cities around the world. This would be something we can all be really proud of - as well as helping to improve the quality of air for everyone living, working and visiting the city.

Why was a charging clean air zone chosen as the benchmark in the Outline Business Case?

This was a requirement which was set out in the legal direction from the Welsh Government, however it has been made clearthrough guidance by the UK Government Joint Air Quality Unit clearly states that a charging clean air zone should only be implemented if non-charging alternatives are found to be inefficient to bring compliance in the shortest time possible

I have a diesel vehicle. I understand diesel engines are mainly responsible for NO2 pollution. Will I be charged or stopped from driving in the city?

The CAZ hasn't been chosen as the preferred solution. Such a scheme would only be considered if the proposed measures were not successful. The measure of retrofitting the remaining buses that do not meet the latest Euro 6 engine standards could be further enhanced by creating a bus low emission zone around Castle Street and Westgate Street, by applying for a Traffic RegulationConditionrequiring all buses operating in this area to be a minimum Euro 6/ULEV/EV standard. This further measure, if it is deemed to be required, would have to be considered as part of the Final Business Case.

What is a Euro 6/ULEV/EV standard engine?

Euro 6 is the sixth and most recent incarnation of the European Union Directive to reduce harmful pollutants from vehicle exhausts. The Euro 6 standard was introduced in September 2015, and all mass-produced cars sold from this date need to meet these emissions requirements. The aim of Euro 6 is to reduce levels of harmful car and van exhaust emissions, both in petrol and diesel cars.

A ULEVa vehicle that produces less than 75g/km of CO2. It's a collective term for a group of cars and can include different types of energy efficient vehicles including:

There is mention of changing taxi licensing as part of the measures. What will this include and will there be incentives for the trade?

It is proposed that:

  • All applications for the grant of anew vehicle license, or for thechange of vehicle on a current license, must comply with the draft Age/Emission Policy Guidelines.

The Full Business Case for the project will assess the necessity of an incentive scheme to assist the Cardiff Taxi Trade in upgrading vehicles. Funding has been requested to the Welsh Government as part of the project but has not yet been approved and any final scheme will be subject to further consultation with the trade.

The previous policy distinguished between different categories of vehicles. The new policy intends to simplify the criteria as shown below.

Current taxi licensing policy







Prestige vehicle


Purpose Built Hackney Carriage



Maximum age at first application



25 months


Under 10 years


Under 10 years


Maximum licensable age (unless vehicle complies with exceptional condition policy)





6 years




10 years




10 years


Age at which vehicle may be annually tested/12 month license issued




Under 4 years



Under 4 years



Under 10 years

Age at which vehicle is tested 6 monthly/ 6 month license issued




4 years



4 years



10 years


Proposed new taxi licensing policy





All licensed vehicles


Vehicle age/emission standard at first application



Under 5 years old and meet or exceed Euro 6 standard


Maximum licensable age (unless vehicles complies with exceptional condition policy)



10 years old


Age at which vehicle may be annually tested/12 month license issued



Under 5 years old


Age at which vehicle is tested 6 monthly/6 month license issued



5 years

Who will make the decision on the best way to move forwards?

The final business case will determine the direction that the Council has to take. The chosen solution(s) has to be proportionate to the extent of the problem in Cardiff and the Cabinet will, based on the information presented to it, decide the preferred option which will be assessed in the final business case. This will be reported to Welsh Government no later than the 30thJune 2019, and a timeframe for implementing the preferred option will be agreed with Welsh Government.

What is the timeframe for the decision?

The final business case on the preferred option has to be submitted to the Welsh Government no later than June 30th2019. This will enable the Council to apply for funding to introduce the measures to reduce NO2levels below the legal requirements as quickly as possible.

How will the public and businesses be kept informed?

The Council has developed a communication plan to support the business case on the measures that have been selected. The communications plan will start on April 3rdand will run for six week, concluding on May 15th. Further communications will then take place to support the Final Business Case.