Improvements in Cardiff’s air quality



Cardiff is celebrating Clean Air Day today with news, based on provisional results, that there has been a significant decrease in Nitrogen Dioxide (NO
2) levels across the city.

The impact of Covid, less traffic on the roads generally, and more people choosing to walk and cycle, has seen Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) levels reduce by 52% in the city centre between May and August this year, compared with the same period last year. 

The data also shows that despite traffic levels picking up again following the early lockdown, air quality levels have improved at every testing site across the city compared with like-for-like data from 2019.

Cllr Caro Wild, Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning and Transport said: "We have been closely monitoring the traffic flow and air quality data across the city to assess the impact of the pandemic and of Castle Street's closure to motor vehicles.

"As you would expect these findings show that air quality has improved dramatically in the city centre this year, but crucially it has also improved in all areas of the city compared with last year, even during the months after the initial lockdown. Simply put, fewer car journeys are taking place, and pleasingly, more journeys appear to be taking place by bike and on foot."

Prior to this year's events,anindependent survey commissioned by the Council forecast that, if things remained the same, then future NO2pollution levels on Castle Street would breach EU legal limits beyond 2021, with other nearby roads also a cause for concern. For this reason, the council already had plans for Castle Street which would reduce traffic flows.

The Council is considering options to reopen Castle Street. These will have to take into consideration the clean air requirements set by Welsh Government's Legal Directive to reduce pollution levels on the street. Options on re-opening will also look at ways social-distancing guidelines can continue to be followed on Castle Street.

 Air-quality improvements have also been seen in other parts of Cardiff where Air Quality Management Areas, which were close to, or in breach of the legal limit, saw significant decreases in NO2.

Stephenson Court, in Plasnewydd, saw a fall inNO2of 35%; Llandaff dropped by 30%; and Ely Bridge fell by 25%. All data was compared with May to August last year.

Cllr Wild added: "These figures are really encouraging, but we don't want to be complacent. Most of us are fully aware that road traffic is a major contributing factor toNO2levels. If we want a cleaner city we simply have to enable more people to use transport modes other than a private car. As a Council we will continue to invest in active travel and public transport infrastructure so that we can help people reduce their reliance on private cars.

"People need options that work for them and we are determined to ensure they those options are made available, so they can make choices that lead to a greener and more sustainable city"

The air quality standard for NO2is based on an annual average so to get a full picture of the improvements, the Council will need to assess the full 12 months of data. The 4 months of data that has been analysed is very encouraging.