Congestion Charge Cardiff - the Future Generations Approach

by David Clubb | October 02, 2019

Congestion Charge for Cardiff – the Future Generations Approach

Singapore was first in 1975. 

London’s got one. Stockholm’s got one. Durham, Milan, Gothenburg and Valletta have them.

Birmingham’s is on the way, as is one for Leeds and Paris.

Yet, in the ‘land of Future Generations’, we’re still waiting! So we’re setting out here why we think a ‘Clean Air Zone’, or a Congestion Charge, would be a good thing for Cardiff (as a starter – no reason why this shouldn’t be the default for built-up areas with high ambient pollution).

What is a Clean Air Zone (or Congestion Charge Zone)

We assume that a Clean Air Zone for Cardiff would charge polluting vehicles to enter city limits – defined as those areas which suffer regularly from high pollution levels.

We think that all non-resident private motor vehicles – except hydrogen, hybrid or fully electric vehicles – should have to pay a charge.

And we think that all the money raised from the charge should be used:

  1. To pay the costs of the scheme
  2. To improve ways of entering Cardiff without needing to use a private motor vehicle (such as train, metro, bus, park and ride and bicycle infrastructure and services)
  3. To improve Active Travel infrastructure within Cardiff

We also believe that Cardiff should follow Nottingham’s example of implementing a Workplace Parking Levy, and that this levy should be directed towards the same expenditure pots.

The Well-being of Future Generations Act specifies seven Goals which should be attained by public sector organisations, working in partnership with stakeholders across civil society. We think that the scheme we envisage would support six out of the seven goals. The impact that a Congestion or Clean Air Zone charge would have on them each is detailed below.

A Healthier Wales

Air pollution is directly responsible for increased morbidity and mortality in the population at large, with particularly damaging effects on the elderly and vulnerable.

It decreases lung function, causes respiratory infection, and significantly increases the risk of stroke, heart disease and lung cancer. Maternal exposure to high levels of air pollution is associated with adverse birth outcomes. Reducing the number of private motor vehicles entering the city would reduce overall levels of air pollution.

A More Equal Wales

Pollution from vehicles does not affect the people of Wales equally. People with high wealth can choose more easily where they live, and are able to leave areas which suffer from high levels of pollution. People with higher educational attainment may be able to access information which can be used to mitigate exposure levels, or identify preferred areas to live or spend time. Pollution has greater health impacts on those who are less able to avoid it, such as young children and the elderly.

A charge on private vehicles entering Cardiff would reduce air pollution, particularly for poor and vulnerable groups, supporting a More Equal Wales

A Globally Responsible Wales

Private motor vehicles which would be eligible for a Cardiff City entrance charge are also those which use fossil fuel. The use of fossil fuel is one of the main causes of climate change, so a reduction in the number of fossil-fueled private motor vehicles will reduce Wales’ contribution to Climate Change, supporting a Globally Responsible Wales.

A Prosperous Wales

Reducing our urban air pollution will reduce morbidity associated with air pollution, reducing the cost of treating such illness and enabling resources to be spent in other areas. A reduction in the use of fossil fuel will also reduce the ‘leakage’ of money which accompanies the purchase of fuel which is produced far away and transported to Wales at significant cost – paid for by Welsh householders and businesses.

A Resilient Wales

The funding which is raised from the scheme should be (partly) recycled into improved Active Travel infrastructure, and into infrastructure and services which support public transport. The use of Active Travel infrastructure in particular is far more resilient to the impacts of flooding or other Climate Change-related impacts (if a section of a cycle or walking path is flooded, it’s often possible to find an alternative route through that part, in a way that’s much more challenging for motor vehicles). Reduced air and water pollution will also contribute towards a more healthy ecosystem – part of Wales’ resilience.

A Wales of Cohesive Communities

Improved provision of Active Travel networks, funded by a Cardiff vehicular access charge, would provide an infrastructure which contributes directly to this Goal, namely “Attractive, viable, safe and well-connected communities”.

We think the science and evidence supporting the implementation of a Congestion Charge/Clean Air Zone for Cardiff are compelling, and strongly aligned with the Well-being Goals – as well as (potentially) those of a Cardiff National Park City! We would encourage the Councillors and citzens of Cardiff to push for these measures to improve the quality of life for all.

Image montage produced from components which include those sourced from FreePix

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