During a speech given today by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Jenny Harries stated that 41% of the workforce are now working from home, compared with 12% a year ago. Dr Harries showed a slide to support this statement (see above). And in a recently published survey commissioned by O2, respondents predicted that the increased level of home working is likely to become permanent. Leeds City Council and Metro need to consider the impact of home working on the A660’s traffic levels and on their plans to alter the A660 to deal with a traffic problem which may no longer exist.
Today’s Guardian reports on London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s announcement that large parts of central London are to be permanently closed to cars. The measure is designed to facilitate social distancing by walkers and cyclists. All the main streets between London Bridge and Shoreditch, Euston and Waterloo, and Old Street and Holborn will become accessible solely by buses, pedestrians and cyclists. Work on the road closures will begin immediately and should be complete within six weeks.
Many other cities around the world have already announced plans to improve walking and cycling in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, but none of these plans are as ambitious as London’s. The measures announced by the mayor have had an enthusiastic response from environmental groups. Doug Parr from Greenpeace commented, “Not only will transforming our streets in a way that prioritises pedestrians and cyclists, and makes it safer for people to move about as lockdown restrictions are eased, but by permanently restricting car use we can keep toxic pollution from filling our air once again.”
Planning application 20/02559/FU is to add a new terminal and new parking provision at Leeds Bradford Airport. It also seeks to extend the airport’s daytime operating hours. The application was submitted to Leeds City Council on the 4th May 2020. Currently, the deadline for commenting on the application is the 4th June 2020.
The application also involves building additional infrastructure to support the new terminal, re-configuration of the existing car parking, a new meet and greet building, a new bus terminal and taxi drop off point.
Currently, the airport’s daytime operating hours are from 7am to 11pm. If the application is successful, the daytime operating hours would be from 6am to 11.30pm. Daytime operating hours are in addition to the “night quota.”
The new terminal would cost £150 million and would open in 2023. It would enable the airport to handle 7 million passengers per annum by 2030. Currently the airport is handling 4 million passengers per annum.
The airport’s owners claim that the current terminal, which opened in 1965, is outdated and inefficient, and needs to be replaced by a terminal with a smaller environmental footprint.
You can access the documents that were submitted with the application and comments that have already been made by clicking on this link. You can make a comment on the application by clicking on this link.
GALBA (Groups Against Leeds Bradford Airport) was formed to co-ordinate resistance to Leeds Bradford Airport’s proposed expansion. You can read their bulletin about the current planning application here.
On the 9th July 2019, the government announced that it was investing £37 million into electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Twelve projects are to receive a share of the funding, including wireless charging projects. Wireless charging would mean that electric vehicles could re-charge their batteries without the need to plug in a cable. The name for this technology is “inductive charging.” Although slower than conventional charging using cable connections, inductive charging is often considered more convenient.
In an article published this January, Car magazine, reported that Nottingham had won a £3.4 million government grant to trial inductive charging for its fleet of taxis. Initially, just ten taxis will participate in the trial, which involves induction loops and other infrastructure being installed at selected Nottingham taxi ranks, so that cabbies can charge their taxis whilst waiting for their fare. The trial is being run by Cenex, which describes itself as a low emissions vehicle research consultancy. Trials elsewhere in the country are being conducted by “Connected Kerb.” You can read more about these trials here.
A new Chinese study covering 324 cities has found that places with modestly higher levels of nitrogen dioxide pollution (10 micrograms per cubic metre) in the five years before the pandemic began had 22% more Covid-19 cases, whilst higher levels of small particle pollution saw a 15% rise. Another Chinese analysis of 120 cities also found a significant link. These studies are in addition to studies in Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States, which also suggest a link between Covid-19 and air pollution. Full details are available in this article published in today’s Guardian.
An article published in Leeds Live in April 2019, claimed that Leeds is one of the worst cities in the UK for vehicle charging points. According to the article, there were just 58 vehicle charging points in Leeds at that time, several of which were not publicly accessible. Leeds City Council disputed the figure, claiming that it had around 70 charging points. A list published in March 2019 by Zap Map gave details of 88 charging points in Leeds. But even with 88 charging points, Leeds compares very badly with cities like Manchester and York.
The lack of charging point in Leeds means that we don’t suffer to the same extent as other cities from the problem of charging points located on pavements. These can make it very difficult for disabled people to get past. Living Streets is running a campaign to ensure that charging points are placed so that the passage of pedestrians is not obstructed. Let’s hope that new charging points in Leeds are located with consideration for others.
Today’s Guardian reports the findings of a study which has detected Coronavirus on particles of air pollution. It is not known yet if the virus remains viable on pollution particles and in sufficient quantity to cause disease. If it is, it would enable the virus to be carried over longer distances and increase the number of people infected.
Leonardo Setti at the University of Bologna in Italy, who led the work, said it was important to investigate if the virus could be carried more widely by air pollution. This would explain higher rates of infection in parts of northern Italy before a lockdown was imposed. The region is one of the most polluted in Europe.
Previous studies have shown that air pollution particles do harbour microbes and that pollution is likely to have carried the viruses causing bird flu, measles and foot-and-mouth disease over considerable distances.
Today’s Guardian reports the findings of a preliminary study which has found the first evidence of a link between higher levels of air pollution and deaths from Covid-19 in England.
The analysis showed that London, the Midlands and the north-west had the highest levels of nitrogen oxide and higher numbers of coronavirus deaths.
“Our study adds to growing evidence from northern Italy and the United States that high levels of air pollution are linked to deadlier cases of Covid-19,” said Miguel Martins, of the University of Cambridge, who led team which produced the new analysis.
Experts accept that air pollution may increase susceptibility to Covid-19, but warn that early studies must be treated very carefully.
Today’s Guardian reports on research published in the journal “Science of the Total Environment,” which shows that almost 80% of deaths across four countries were in the most polluted regions. The research examined levels of nitrogen dioxide, a pollutant produced mostly by diesel vehicles. “The results indicate that long-term exposure to this pollutant may be one of the most important contributors to fatality caused by the Covid-19 virus in these regions and maybe across the whole world,” said Yaron Ogen, at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg in Germany, who conducted the research. Professor Jonathan Grigg, from Queen Mary University of London, said the study showed an association between Covid-19 deaths and NO2 levels. The article states that long-term exposure to dirty air before the pandemic may be more important than current levels of pollution.
In 2019, Oslo (population 673,000) recorded zero pedestrian deaths. Several innovations achieved this. Over the previous five years, the city replaced almost all on-street parking with pavements and segregated bike lanes (over 1,000 parking spaces were removed). Major streets were closed to cars, and congestion charging raised the fee to drive into the city centre by 70%, with the aim of making most of the city car-free by 2019. Car parking charges were increased by 50%. Speed humps were introduced. The city also lowered the speed limit. The result was that in 2019, the city recorded zero pedestrian deaths. This is a significant improvement on an annual average death rate of 3.6 over the previous five years. By comparison, in 2018, there were 57 pedestrian deaths in London. Oslo’s “Vision Zero Strategy” aims for no traffic related fatalities or serious injuries on its roads. You can read more about the measures used to achieve Oslo’s zero fatality rate in this Guardian article.