Thursday, 28 July 2011

Brighton and Hove's electric vehicles project wins top PRISM award

Electric car and charge point (pic - Elektromotive)
 28 July 2011. Brighton & Hove City Council has won a national award for its work to promote the use of electric vehicles - CIVINET’s PRISM Award for the most "outstanding, ambitious and innovative scheme in the field of sustainable urban mobility in the UK and Ireland". 

A council spokesperson said: "Electric vehicles produce zero emissions on the road, a huge advantage over conventionally powered vehicles in terms of air quality."

Three charge locations already running
The council’s electric vehicle charging point scheme began in February 2010 and was the first project of its scale in the UK outside London. Four on-street electric vehicle charging points were installed at Bartholomew’s in central Brighton and Ditchling Road opposite The Level. A further four have been recently installed, two at Withdean Stadium which will be up and running at the end of the week and two at Madeira Drive. The council is working with energy supply companies to have the Madeira Drive points running by autumn.

The charging points were installed by Elektromotive Ltd, who released survey results in June saying two thirds of motorists would be more likely to buy an electric vehicle (EV) if charging posts were readily available at roadsides and in car parks across the UK.

A registration scheme for UK residents has been set up by the council and Elektromotive. A trial period is underway offering incentives to encourage drivers to switch to electric vehicles, including free registration, parking and electricity whilst vehicles are recharging.

Brighton & Hove is the only city in the country to have gained funding for such a project from the EU’s CIVITAS Archimedes Project; and is working with five other cities in Europe to share best practice, experience and skills.

The scheme was set up during the Conservative administration of the City council, and has cross party support.

At a national level, 2011 was billed as a "breakthrough year" for electric cars when the government launched a £5,000 grant for sales of the cars. But at the end of June, the promised vision of a network of electric highways wired up for a fleet of battery-powered cars became the latest government pledge to fall victim to spending cuts. The Department for Transport said it was, however, still committed to spending £30m to build 8,500 charge points in eight "Plugged in Places" pilot areas in London, Milton Keynes. the North-East of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Greater Manchester, the Midlands and the East of England.

Brighton & Hove City Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for transport and the public realm, Councillor Ian Davey, said: “Our vision is to make Brighton & Hove the UK’s greenest city, and we are committed to achieving a clean and energy-efficient transport system.

“We’re working with other cities and countries to share expertise and best practice. It’s exciting to think that what we do here will influence future transport policy, not only in the UK but also in Europe.”

For further information about using electric vehicles and the city’s charging points visit or phone 01273 292455 / 290367.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Review of council-subsidised bus services underway in Brighton and Hove

"Breeze up the Downs" country access buses are among subsidised services up for review
27 July 2011. Brighton and Hove City Council has embarked on a review of dozens of bus services that depend on council subsidy for their survival. Any changes which result from the review will come into effect in September 2012. The review also asks whether any new 'direct' bus services are needed.
 A spokesperson said: "Brighton & Hove City Council plans and funds a number of bus services. We pay for some complete routes and a number of evening, Sunday and school services. As these services are not profitable, they would not run without financial support from the council.

"The Transport Act 1985 gives local authorities the powers to seek tenders, and then to issue contracts, for bus services which are considered ‘socially necessary,’ but which are not commercially viable. Contracts for existing supported services were issued in September 2008, and are due to expire in September 2012. Before going out to tender for replacement services we are very keen to take into account the views of local communities throughout the city"

Residents are being asked to consider the following questions:
• Do the services run at suitable times ?
• Do they run to useful destinations ?
• Do the services offer value for money ?
• Are there any areas of Brighton & Hove which are not currently on bus routes, and where a bus route would be beneficial ?
• In terms of employment and educational opportunities, and of encouraging bus travel, are any new “direct” bus routes needed ?

If you would like to discuss any of these points, or if you have any questions, please do contact Richard Johnson on (01273) 292480, or by e mail
The full review document can be downloaded at the link below
Bus Services Review – July 2011
Or click "read more" for list of services affected (extracted from Review Doc above)

In a related development, a council source said earlier today that the proposed CTS rapid transit service was shelved because of lack of funds. This would have enabled rapid bus links to reduce journey times on public transport - a move seen as essential if the city is to reduce air pollution caused by short car journeys. In B&H, 27,000 car journeys per day are work commutes of less than three miles, according to a report released last week.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

"Appalling 40% increase in air pollution under previous Conservative administration" slammed by Green councillors in Brighton and Hove

26 July 2011. Earlier today, the Green Group of Councillors in Brighton & Hove's City Council criticised the "appalling 40% increase in air pollution under previous Conservative Administration".

Green Councillor Ian Davey said: "New figures show a serious deterioration in air quality over the four years of the previous Conservative administration."

A spokesperson for the Green Group of Councillors said air quality figures for 2010 released last week, showed that parts of Lewes Road saw air pollution levels rise by 40% in the four years to 2010. The figures were released in Brighton and Hove City Council (BHCC) Air Quality Action Plan 2011.

Cllr Davey is Cabinet member for Transport & Public Realm in Brighton & Hove since he was appointed under the Green-led administration which came to power following local elections on 5 May 2011.

Cllr Davey said: “Air quality is incredibly important for residents’ health. You don’t need to be a scientist to work out that these figures are appalling. When I raised concerns over deteriorating air quality over the last four years, the Tories accused me of being alarmist while claiming that air quality was improving.

“These figures show how irresponsible and complacent their attitude was. Rather than dealing with the problem they preferred the easy option of ignoring it.

During the period of Conservative administration of the council (2007 - 2011), several important components of the city's Local Transport Plan, made in the year 2000, were cancelled. These included the Old Shoreham Road Cycle Lane scheme (backbone of the proposed cycle network) and the Bus Rapid Transport Scheme which would have had high impact on reducing car use. The minority Tory administration even attempted to "repeal" the council's commitment to sustainable transport, saying it "unfairly penalised" the car driver.

The public reacted against Conservative attempts to dismantle cycle lanes in Hove in February this year. In local elections on 5 May, Conservatives lost almost 12 of their 25 seats on the council - and the Greens became the new leaders of the council.

Today, Cllr Davey said: “The Green administration will not shrink away from showing the leadership necessary to tackle the problem. We are starting with the Lewes Road where we have been successful in winning £4m from the Local Sustainable Transport Fund. Our immediate efforts will be focused on getting traffic moving to prevent congestion and pollution, while working to offer people a real alternative to using private cars to get in and around the city.”

The £4m bid for the Lewes Road corridor project was made under the Tory administration, but Greens claimed credit for the idea. For more on the Lewes Road Corridor Project click here.

The Conservative councillor who was responsible for Environment was today emailed for comment, but we have not yet had a response.

For analysis of the AQAP 2011 report: click here.

CTS rapid transit system in Brighton and Hove could become reality this year, according to AQAP report

Could Brighton & Hove's CTS look like this example? Many Continental and USA cities use Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems with standard buses, light-rail like stations, queue jumpers, priority traffic lanes and signals. Stations at one-mile intervals.
26 July 2011. A rapid transit public transport scheme could become reality in Brighton and Hove as early as later this year, according to Brighton and Hove City Council's Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) 2011.

*** Update: 27 July 2011. A council source commented today: "The CTS proposal was made in a previous era when there was money around for such schemes, alas, whilst it remains an aspiration, the funding is no longer in place for this."

The AQAP report issued last week says the Coastal Transport System (CTS) (formerly known as Rapid Transport System (RTS)) could begin in 2011/12 "subject to acceptance of the Business Case by the Government".

If approved, the express, limited-stop-route would run from Brighton Marina in the East, via the Royal Sussex Hospital and Brighton Station, then along the Kingsway to the King Alfred, and finally to Shoreham Harbour in the West. CTS could connect with other public transport links. This would hugely speed up journey times for those using public transport along these routes.

The report says: "The CTS is designed to create a step change in public transport services and infrastructure in Brighton & Hove by providing an attractive, alternative for some journeys to reach both existing and future planned destinations. This will provide sufficient choice for some car drivers and assist in contributing towards transport modal shift that is in line with the council’s LDF Core Strategy. CTS aims to deliver a socially inclusive transport mode. The increased capacity of the public transport network will offer environmental and economic benefits to the city.

CTS would initially link key social, leisure, residential, business and employment destinations between Worthing (West), Brighton Marina (East) and Brighton Station (City Centre). Utilising a high quality, frequent express with limited stops, the CTS will complement, rather than compete with, existing local bus and train services.

The CTS is propsed to use two key corridors (east and west) with segregated priority on the route and at junctions where possible. The route will be :

• East out of Brighton Station – North Street – Eastern Road – Royal Sussex Hospital – Brighton Marina.
• West out of Brighton Station – West Street – Kings Road – King Alfred Centre - Shoreham Harbour

The routes will link the railway station, the retail centre, major businesses such as American Express, the Royal Sussex County Hospital and visitor destinations such as the Marina and the seafront.

CTS is based on the concept of high frequency, limited stop services to primarily meet the needs of passengers who otherwise may not have considered conventional local Brighton and Hove City Council – England July 2011 bus services. It is expected that there will be 10 RTS stops in Brighton & Hove.

Proposed CTS stops:
• Brighton Station – a key interchange for longer distance passengers seeking links to American Express, Hospital, Marina or Shoreham Harbour developments – the number and type of buses and taxis needs to be managed at this interchange from an air quality point of view
• Clock Tower – access to Churchill Square and other central retail areas in Brighton centre although the number of buses at this junction must be managed with a view to the air quality implications
• North Street – access to the Cultural Quarter, tourist, retail and employment areas, plus bus to bus interchange, North Street has between 3,500 and 4,000 buses a day
• American Express (Edward Street) – serving one of the city’s major employers
• Royal Sussex County Hospital (Eastern Road) – a key sub-regional health facility
• Brighton Marina – a significant leisure destination and retail destination , as well as serving major residential development and the proposed Brighton International Arena
• Brighton Conference Centre – gives access to the Brighton seafront as well as an important destination
• Hove Seafront – offering an intermediary stop serving residential and employment uses, as well as offering a tourist link
• King Alfred Centre – a potential redevelopment site
• Shoreham Harbour – significant regeneration potential for residential, commercial, leisure and community uses.

*** UPDATE 27 July 2011: In the notes to the AQAP report, the CTS Rapid Transport System is mentioned as an option to the Local Transport Plan (2) which was the plan for the period 2000-2011, and now succeeded by LTP3. The notes say the Rapid Transport System was to have been implemented by BHCC and Brighton and Hove Bus Co. It was rated as having "HIGH" impact on air quality. The budget cost was £11.4m mainly for planning a priority route for express buses. Other benefits were to reduce impact of private car use resulting in less noise, congestion and improved road safety. "Targeted at specific road network but will also reduce private vehicle traffic citywide".
Intriguingly, the notes say that the Rapid Transport System was to have been implemented in 2008-2009. There's obviously some discrepancy here with the main text of AQAP, which says the CTS project would be implemented in 2010-11.
It seems this Rapid Bus scheme was left over from the original Local Transport Plan of 2000. Other parts of this sustainable transport plan (such as Old Shoreham Road) fell victim to the policies of the Tory administration in the years 2007-2011, which, apart from relentless cost saving, also attempted to "repeal" the council's commitment to sustainable transport - because it "unfairly penalised" car drivers.

For more analysis of the AQAP 2011 report: click here.

Air pollution hotspots in Brighton and Hove

The Lewes Road, London Road and Old Steine are some of the areas in Brighton where air pollution exceeds EU limits, according to a map published in Brighton and Hove City Council (BHCC) Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) 2011, a report published a few days ago.

The pink and red areas on the map above are areas where the average pollution during 2010 exceeded the EU maximum NO2 allowed (40ug per M3) . Some areas were almost double the EU accepted levels:  Measuring points at Oxford Street London Road end, 82A Lewes road, North Sreet, Viaduct Terrace all recorded averages above 70ug per M3.

For more analysis of the AQAP 2011 report: click here.

What's so bad about Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) as an air pollutant?

Nitrogen Dioxide 2009 tropospheric column density.

Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) has taken most of the blame for reports that air pollution is rising in parts of Brighton and Hove. It is produced whenever fuel is burned - mostly by motor cars burning petrol and diesel, but also by domestic cookers and heaters burning gas. It is invisible, and is less harmful to healthy adults than it is to young and vulnerable people.

Brighton and Hove City Council (BHCC) published its Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) 2011 a few days ago. The report says NO2 levels are rising in parts of Brighton and Hove - and has this to say about NO2:
"Nitrogen Dioxide is a respiratory irritant associated with both acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term) effects on human health. Repetitive exposure can inhibit lung tissue growth and repair increasing the risk of poor respiratory health later in life. Some of the research evidence suggests chronic exposure can make the respiratory tract more susceptible to disease including allergens. Children under six (especially infants born early) and people with existing respiratory illnesses such as asthma and bronchitis are more vulnerable to repeated inhalation of Nitrogen Dioxide. Healthy adults are less likely to have any detrimental health effects solely due to the NO2 at concentrations commonly found adjacent to European roadsides. Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) and nitric oxide (NO) are both Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx). In the atmosphere oxides of Nitrogen also lead to the formation of other pollutants such as ground level ozone and particulate matter.

All combustion processes in air produce NOx emissions. Heat during combustion breaks the binary bonds of ambient Oxygen molecules (O2) releasing energy and allowing freed Oxygen atoms to oxidise plentiful atmospheric Nitrogen. It is expected that between 15 and 25% of NOx emissions from vehicles are readily formed as Nitrogen Dioxide prior to emission. This is referred to as primary NO2 and is released in the exhaust gas. The other 80% or so is Nitric Oxide which given time will convert to Nitrogen dioxide, in the atmosphere mainly as a result of reaction with ozone in the presence of sunlight. It is Nitrogen Dioxide that is associated with adverse effects upon human health.

The principal source of Nitrogen Oxides emissions in Brighton is road transport. In Brighton congested traffic in the city centre in combination with domestic and commercial heating and cooking are important sources.

NOx emissions can be mitigated by after-burning devices or recirculation of exhaust gasses. Emission of NOx are comparatively low for modern petrol cars travelling at intermediate speeds. There is some evidence to suggest that older petrol vehicles have less effective catalytic converters and consequently higher emission of NOx. In comparison diesel vehicles have higher emissions of NOx and a significantly higher ratio of primary NO2. As a general rule the older and heavier a vehicle the higher its emission of NOx, but the most modern diesel cars may be an exception to this rule. That said driving style, speed and engine temperature are also factors that influence the emissions rates. Furthermore dispersion of the emission is influenced by meteorology and the built environment."
Here's what Wikipedia has to say:
Nitrogen dioxide is toxic by inhalation. However, as the compound is acrid and easily detectable by smell at low concentrations, inhalation exposure can generally be avoided. One potential source of exposure is fuming nitric acid, which spontaneously produces NO2 above 0 °C. Symptoms of poisoning (lung edema) tend to appear several hours after inhalation of a low but potentially fatal dose. Also, low concentrations (4 ppm) will anesthetize the nose, thus creating a potential for overexposure.
Long-term exposure to NO2 at concentrations above 40– 100 µg/m3 [as seen in some parts of Brighton and Hove - ed] causes adverse health effects.[3]
The most important sources of NO2 are internal combustion engines,[4] thermal power stations and, to a lesser extent, pulp mills. Butane gas heaters and stoves are also sources. The excess air required for complete combustion of fuels in these processes introduces nitrogen into the combustion reactions at high temperatures and produces nitrogen oxides (NOx). Limiting NOx production demands the precise control of the amount of air used in combustion. In households, kerosene heaters and gas heaters are sources of nitrogen dioxide.
Nitrogen dioxide is also produced by atmospheric nuclear tests, and is responsible for the reddish colour of mushroom clouds.[5]
Nitrogen dioxide is a large scale pollutant, with rural background ground level concentrations in some areas around 30 µg/m3, not far below unhealthy levels. Nitrogen dioxide plays a role in atmospheric chemistry, including the formation of tropospheric ozone. A 2005 study by researchers at the University of California, San Diego, suggests a link between NO2 levels and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.[6]
Nitrogen dioxide is also produced naturally during electrical storms. The term for this process is "atmospheric fixation of nitrogen". The rain produced during such storms is especially good for the garden as it contains trace amounts of fertilizer. (Henry Cavendish 1784, Birkland -Eyde Process 1903, et-al)
Nitrogen dioxide is formed in most combustion processes using air as the oxidant. At elevated temperatures nitrogen combines with oxygen to form nitric oxide:
O2 + N2 → 2 NO
Nitric oxide can be oxidized in air to form nitrogen dioxide. At normal atmospheric concentrations this is a very slow process.
2 NO + O2 → 2 NO2

For analysis of the AQAP 2011 report: click here

Monday, 25 July 2011

Deadly air pollution rising despite clean air technology, says Brighton and Hove Council report

Graph showing NO2 levels rising in Brighton and Hove after 2008

Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) pollution has been increasing since 2008 in parts of Brighton and Hove, despite technology improvements that were supposed to reduce vehicle emissions.

The evidence is given in the graph above, taken from Brighton and Hove City Council (BHCC) Air Quality Action Plan 2011.

NO2 is linked to increased rates of death from all causes.

It was thought that improvements in engine design since the 1990s would lead to ongoing improvements in pollution levels. This appeared to be the case up to 2008 - but since then NO2 pollution has been increasing again.

The report says:
"It was thought that improvements to engine and fuel technology would reduce NO2 exceedences over time even if little action was taken locally. Nationally and internationally this has not happened to the extent that was anticipated.  In many cities estimates for air quality improvement made in the period 2000 to 2010 have been found to be over optimistic. That said locally in Brighton significant improvements have been recorded up to 2008.  It is likely that AQO compliance very close (<10 metres) to some heavily trafficked and congested roads is not likely to happen prior to 2015. Therefore further local intervention is required.  Brighton and Hove’s reports have consistently confirmed that road traffic is the primary (but not exclusive) contributing factor to poor air quality in the city. Therefore the majority of improvement measures described in the report are related to road traffic including the decisions people make when travelling.

In the main poor air quality in Brighton and Hove is a combination of stop-start heavy vehicles, accelerating engines, and the proximity of buildings adjacent to traffic." 

The report makes a strong case for the importance of this issue. Although some forms of modern air pollution are invisible, they remain deadly:
"Decision makers should be aware that reductions in ambient pollution led by investment in technology is a multiple win situation; for the urban environment, human-health and a positive growth area for the economy. Improvements in air quality aim to protect the most vulnerable members of society; most especially the very young and those with existing respiratory illness. Given that prevention is better than cure it is in the financial interests of government and the health service to save capital by investing in a healthier urban environment. Where the air is poor; airborne pollution can contribute to heart and lung conditions and influence life expectancy. Based on past figures the government white paper on sustainable transport1 estimated that poor air quality costs the UK economy £19 billion per year. As this assessment does not include all airborne pollutants it is likely to be an underestimate. Report by the committee on the medical effects of air pollution suggests fine particulate have a small contribution to 200,000 UK deaths in 2008  equivalent to a variable influence on one-third of annual mortality. A number of international studies also demonstrate a link between urban Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) and all cause mortality. The latest evidence now suggests that poor air quality is a greater risk to our society than; alcohol abuse, passive smoking, obesity, flooding and road traffic accidents."
The report identifies modal shift as a key means for reducing air pollution. But in my opinion the report fails to highlight this or put it in the context of what other countries have achieved. This is a cautious approach to the problem in a country where we are reluctant to change our reliance on the private motor car. Modal shift means getting the population to choose sustainable transport en mass. For example, in Holland up to 33% of trips are made by cycle, in the UK this is less than 2%. There is much more discussion on elements of planning for modal transport in other parts of this blog. These points are made in he report, but in a muted way:
"Local business and the general public are both the cause and the solution for the problem of poor outdoor air. This action plan follows an open twelve-week consultation period and sets out how airborne pollution can be reduced in order to improve the outdoor air in Brighton. The final action plan takes account of consultee comments and includes new references to the London Mayor’s Air Quality Strategy and the Sussex Low Emission Strategy. In 2011 Brighton and Hove have been awarded a grant under the Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF) for reductions in emissions and improvements to local air quality.

The former AQAP (Air Quality Action Plan 2006) and LTP1 (First Local Transport Plan) acknowledged that road traffic was main course and encouraged modal shift; namely avoidance of private car usage and reduction in total traffic numbers, promotion of walking cycling and public transport. It has been identified that most of the traffic within the city is locally generated, with two thirds of vehicles on the road at any one time making trips which begin and end in the city. Many of these shorter journeys could be achieved by more sustainable means.

A successful program to reduce car usage makes sense in terms of reducing fuel consumption, minimising carbon footprint, freeing up road space for all users and making neighbourhoods more conducive to; cycling, walking, social cohesion and play. In our city’s AQMA (Air Quality Management Area), private cars typically contribute between: one-quarter and a half of roadside NO2 pollution. Between three-quarters or a half can arise from other sources notably; trucks, vans, taxis and buses. The majority of locally derived pollution comes from either diesel vehicles or older petrol vehicles. Therefore a policy of travel choice has to be part of a much more comprehensive air quality action plan.
The main reasons for tackling poor air quality are the links with quality of life and the need to minimise the risk to human health."
The report also makes some interesting general observations on the poisons contained in vehicle emissions, and on transport in the city. But there is a tendency to look on the bright side. When the report says say there has been a 27% increase in cycling, and omits to mention that we started at 1.5% of all trips, we are still making less than 2% of trips by cycle. We are far behind our continental partners. On the positive side, the report does make the case that, when compared with the rest of Britain, Brighton and Hove is going in the right direction. Most of the nation is, apparently, increasing its reliance on the car, as B&H gradually reduces it.
"Since 2007 a decrease in traffic volumes has been observed at some locations (in B&H). Further analysis of traffic flow changes is included in the 2010 Air Quality Progress Report (AQPR)3.  Bus patronage has continued to increase every year since 1993. This
compares favourably to the national trend, which has shown a more substantial growth in car use between 1993 and 2007.

The city’s main commercial bus operator, the ‘Brighton and Hove Bus & Coach Company’ has achieved an increase in passenger journeys of approximately 5% each year since 1993. In addition, cycling in Brighton & Hove has substantially grown in recent years – a 27% increase was recorded in the 2006-2008 period.  The seafront cycle lane has one of the highest daily flows of bicycles anywhere in the UK.

Based on 2001 Census figures, vehicle ownership in Brighton & Hove is the lowest in the south-east region (comparable to a London Borough) and one of the lowest nationally. Across the city, there is an average of less than 0.9 cars or vans per household, compared to 1.3 in the South East.  Most traffic in the city is locally generated – some two-thirds of vehicles on the road at any one time are making trips, which begin and end within the city. Journeys from adjacent areas such as Shoreham, Worthing and Lewes also account for a significant proportion of the total traffic." 
Later, the report emphasises the point that many in Brighton still regularly use cars for short journeys (3 miles or less). That's 27,000 necessary journeys a day!

"Cycling in Brighton & Hove has seen substantial growth in recent years. (27% increase recorded in the 2006-2008 period.)  However, around 45% of workers employed in the city use a car to get to work drive less than three miles. This is estimated to be over 27,000 car journeys per day, so there is great potential for increasing safe bicycle use - and also to bring other benefits on both an individual and a wider level."
Link to BHCC AQAP 2011

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Brighton and Hove to publish "climate change action plan" in the autumn

A "climate change action plan" for Brighton and Hove will be published later this year, according to a report presented at a council cabinet meeting on 15 July 2011.

A spokesperson said the report outlined moves to "radically boost energy from renewable sources produced in Brighton & Hove".

Cabinet councillor for environment Pete West said: "The council is gearing up for a massive investment in sustainable energy in the city. We're leading by example by starting with the city's biggest-ever solar electricity programme.

He said this would help the local economy and open up opportunities for others to install solar electricity using the council's buying power to bring down costs.

Cllr West said: "There is no overnight fix and we don't underestimate the technical and financial challenges. But the council will be working hard to overcome them with a range of partners and agencies." 

The report was made in response to an independent scrutiny commission set up by the council in April, which called on the authority to help radically increase use of low-carbon power citywide. The council's response made on 15th June highlighted progress:

• A major installation of solar electricity panels on dozens of council buildings and schools, plus 1,600 homes. Work is expected to start this year.
• Households encouraged to participate in domestic electricity generation in the Feed-in Tariff scheme.
• Some new or refurbished school buildings are being fitted with solar hot water and electricity panels plus air-and ground-source heat pumps which cut electricity use.
• The council has undertaken to work with developers of major schemes, such as Shoreham Port, to ensure as much renewable energy as possible is included.
• A Climate Change Action Plan will be published by the council in the autumn, addressing housing, transport, industry, commerce, and sustainable energy.
• A new online tool for developers to plan low-energy buildings introduced this month by the council's planning service.
• The council is looking into setting up a Sustainable Energy Agency to co-ordinate green power initiatives in the city. The authority is also investigating how much energy could be generated by alternative sources such as wind power.
• A 'heat mapping' exercise would identify areas where high energy demand might be met from small-scale low carbon generation locally.
• There will be work done to increase training and apprenticeships in the renewable energy sector, and a campaign to spread the low-carbon message.
• A bid for £1m of EU funds is being made, aimed at setting up apprenticeships related to green energy.
• Officials will investigate funding for a scheme to help communities generate their own low-carbon power.

The Renewables Scrutiny Panel was chaired by Dr Adrian Smith, of the Science and Technology Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex. Other panel members were councillors from various political parties including Cllrs Pete West, Warren Morgan, and David Watkins.

The Panel held four public meetings, hearing from 26 expert witnesses, including council officers, representatives of city partner organisations, experts on renewable energy, sustainable energy businesses and local residents.

Air pollution is above EU permitted levels - and getting worse in some areas of Brighton and Hove

21 July 2011. Brighton and Hove City Council today published air quality data that shows pollution is above EU legal levels - and getting worse in some areas of the city, despite efforts to reduce vehicle emissions.

The Council's second Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) (link below) shows average Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) concentrations were higher in 2010 than in 2008, and higher than 2009 in some streets. Continuous analysers at Preston Park and at Hove Town Hall recorded a small increase in levels during 2010 compared to previous years.

Green Councillor Ian Davey is cabinet member for transport and the public realm. He said: "This report shows how serious the problems with traffic related air pollution are in the city. Far from improving; air quality in some areas are clearly getting worse."

A council spokesperson said that in 2010, NO2 concentrations were above the legal limit, and worst at roadside locations in Central Brighton and Portslade. A similar situation occurs in other cities in Europe with examples of increasing ambient NO2 including Cambridge and Paris. Since 2007 some local road links have shown evidence of a decline in total traffic tallies.
The spokesperson said the increase in ambient NO2 in Brighton & Hove is likely to be due to the following contributory factors:
• An ageing vehicle fleet on the road
• A higher proportion of diesel vehicles that show no real performance improvement in emissions of NO and NO2
• A higher proportion of older petrol vehicles with catalytic converters that perform less well with time
• Higher regional background NO2 across South East England
• Higher domestic and commercial heating demand during the past two winters; 2009/2010 and 2010/11, and consequently a likely higher total emission from wood burning and gas fired central heating systems.

The second Air Quality Action Plan follows a 12-week public consultation and refers to key documents published during the past year.  It includes a comprehensive set of measures and recommendations aimed at improving air quality in Brighton.

Cllr Davey added: "We are delighted that the success of the bid to the government's Local Sustainable Transport Fund has given us £4 million to spend in the Lewes Road corridor which gives us an opportunity to make a quick start in one of the worst affected areas."

Together with external partnership and council funds, plus support from the local community, the Lewes Road Corridor project will be worth approximately £6 million over four years. Work is expected to begin this year.

The spokesperson added: "The council is also linking air quality into the city's Local Transport Plan and has joined with Sussex partners to initiate a low emission strategy pilot to address the problem county-wide. This will promote initiatives such as electric vehicle use and contribute to local planning policies.

"There has been progress in providing travel choice in the city; however a number of other measures require implementation if the EU and English limits for Nitrogen Dioxide are to be met."

Click here for link to: Brighton and Hove City Council Air Quality Action Plan 2011

Friday, 8 July 2011

Brighton and Hove to survey 6,000 residents about Highways and Transport

Friday, 8 July 2011. Brighton & Hove residents will be asked what they think about their local highways and transport services, in a survey that will take place later in July.

A questionnaire is being sent to a minimum random sample of 6,000 Brighton & Hove residents with local and national results expected to be published later in the summer. Since the survey is based on a sample, all residents who receive a copy are being urged to take part.

Councillor Ian Davey, cabinet member for transport and the public realm, said: “We are committed to involving residents and listening to what they have to say. The results will help us assess how we are performing, prioritise services and to improve the service to communities.”

Nearly 70 Local Authorities across the UK will take part in the survey, from the National Highways & Transport Network (NHT) and the regional Highways Service Improvement Group. It is believed to be the first attempt to involve a number of separate highway authorities in a comparable survey format. Councils will be able to compare results, share best practice and identify opportunities to work together in the future.

Peter Radford, Chair of the NHT Network Survey Steering Group said: “There are clear benefits to conducting a public survey in this way. As well as providing excellent value for money, it also enables everyone involved to identify areas of best practice and spot national, regional and local trends.

“This is not about producing a league table to champion one geographical area over another, it is about understanding customer views better and working together to deliver the best possible outcomes for local residents.”

The survey is the result of a collaboration between the National Highways and Transport (NHT) Network and the South West Highway Service Improvement Group. It is being carried out on behalf of the participating councils by market research specialist, Ipsos MORI.

Participation in the survey is voluntary. It is believed to be the first survey of its kind to bring together a large number of separate highway authorities from all over England and parts of Wales to carry out their surveys in a comparable format

The survey questionnaire covers all aspects of local highway and transport services (e.g. from the condition or roads and footways to the quality of local bus services). It should take around 20 minutes to complete.

Southern Rail U-turn on Cycle Parking at main entrance to Brighton Station: 40 new spaces at front (south entrance)

May. Cyclists locked bikes to railings outside
8 July 2011. Southern Rail today announced that a new 40-space double-tier bicycle parking facility is to be installed at the south side of Brighton railway station by September 2011.

The announcement is a reversal of the previous decision by Southern not replace cycle parking facilities at the front of the station, which were removed during renovations earlier this year. At that time, Southern said cycle parking represented a security threat in that they could not monitor bags left on cycles in the busy main entrance to the station.

The new cycle rack will be located where currently there is a small car parking area used by British Transport Police (BTP) and Southern Staff adjacent to the building that houses the BTP offices and public conveniences. It will be fenced, and monitored 24 hours a day by Southern’s CCTV Control Centre. The new facility is due to be completed by early September.  

As they once were: an estimated 100 cycles or more at station front
May: The space where the old cycle racks once were
Cyclists protested against the removal of the cycling facilities, saying no consultations were made, and that the remaining provisions were less convenient since they were at the rear of the station and required cyclists to dismount, and walk through the station onto a rear platform before they could park. As a consequence, the front railings became festooned with bicycles locked to the railings.

The cabinet member responsible for Transport in Brighton and Hove's new Green-led City Council, Cllr Ian Davey, backed the campaign to get cycle parking re-instated at the front of building. He described the move as a Green win and said: "I have been discussing the need for provision of cycling parking at the front of the station with Southern since coming into post in May. I am delighted they have listened and responded so positively. I look forward to them being opened in September.”

Cllr Ian Davey is also Brighton and Hove City Council’s Deputy Leader.

A council spokesperson said: "Southern has been working closely with Brighton and Hove City Council on plans for the station frontage including cycle parking, and following recent feedback from cyclists who use the station, installation of the two-tier rack will begin next month."

Southern’s Franchise Improvement Director, David Scorey said: “We are pleased to announce the installation of this new facility. Although we have put in over a hundred extra cycle parking spaces at the rear of the station which are very well used, some of our passengers told us they wanted parking to be available at the front. This will go some way to meeting those requirements.”

Cycling should be made a more convenient option option, not less convenient.

In my opinion, the 40 new cycle parking spaces will barely be able to cope with the number of cycles already chained to the front of the station. It seems clear that people some people are leaving their cycles there for long term parking. Not only is there a train station and a bus terminus there, it is the gateway to Brighton's main shopping area, and dense residential areas of Queens Road, Western Road and the North Laine. If we are going to encourage cycling, we need to plan for storage for a lot more cycles. It seems a pity to waste the quadrangle in front of the Station, and Southern should play its part in promoting sustainable transport. But they do face a problem - how to deal with cycles left there long term, and even abandoned. Could they levy a small fee, as is done in some other places? Should the city provide a large cycle parking facility? Watch this space.

How it is done in Utrecht
Take a look at this video, and the comments below it, to see how another station in another city is providing parking for cyclists.

Brighton: Sign warning cyclists not to park cycles.
Brighton: Railings outside the front of the station

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Brighton's Lewes Road Corridor sustainable transport project given the go ahead with £4m of government funding

Cllr Davey leads cycle campaign Feb 2011
5 July 2011. Brighton's Lewes Road Corridor project secured £4m funding from the Department for Transport's Local Sustainable Transport Fund, it was announced today.

The Brighton project was one of 39 sustainable transport schemes across England that were given the go ahead as part of a £155 million Government investment aimed at boosting economic growth and reducing carbon emissions.

Cabinet member for transport in Brighton and Hove City Council, Green councillor Ian Davey, expressed joy at the news. He said the scheme had been suggested by Greens during the previous Tory administration, and it was good news that it was won under the new Green administration: “One of our key aims is to give the city the infrastructure it needs to be open for business. A crucial part of that is sustainable transport, enabling people and goods to move around without spoiling our streets or the air we breathe.

“This is a great opportunity for the council to work with residents and business to alleviate some of the transport problems in the area, particularly poor air quality caused by congestion.”

A Brighton and Hove City Council spokesperson said: “It’s part of our ambition to make the city one of the greenest in the UK. Some 66 councils bid for a pot of £155m the government made available. 37 authorities were successful."

With external partnership and council funds, plus support from the local community, the project will be worth approximately £6 million over four years. Key partners in the bid include Southern Rail, Brighton & Hove Buses, Sussex and Brighton Universities, the Primary Care Trust, and the Engineering and Physical Research Council. 

"It will be used to help local people make more eco-friendly transport plans for themselves. Physical alterations to the road will include upgrades to public transport infrastructure, cycling improvements, traffic signal upgrades, pedestrian improvements and improved links to the new South Downs National Park.

An exact timescale for the project has yet to be fixed, but work should start this year. 

The judging panel included buses and transport expert Tony Depledge, Ian Drummond from local government body ADEPT, Stephen Joseph from Campaign for Better Transport, Adam Marshall from the British Chambers of Commerce, Lynn Sloman from Transport for Quality of Life.

Brighton Pavilion's Green MP Caroline Lucas said the news was "fantastic" and a "step in the right direction".

39 projects won funding as part of the first allocation from the Local Sustainable Transport Fund. They cover eight regions and a total of 37 local authorities, with many more as partners. All have been judged to be effective against the fund’s two key objectives of creating growth and cutting carbon.

The successful schemes also include a variety of measures such as smart ticketing, the promotion of infrastructure for electric vehicles, bus and rail improvement measures, cycling and walking and are designed to link together to create a sustainable transport package that delivers economic growth.

Transport Minister Norman Baker said: “I am delighted to be able to fund these excellent projects.

“All the winning schemes have one thing in common – they will help build strong local economies while addressing the urgent challenge of climate change.

“We have empowered local authorities to create packages of sustainable initiatives that are tailored for their local areas, and this is only the beginning – even more funding will be announced next summer following a second round of bids.”

For details of the Brighton and Hove's bid for DfT funds, click here