Air pollution is caused from the introduction of a range of substances into the atmosphere from a wide variety of sources.
It negatively impacts our health and the health of our environment and contributes to the deaths of around 1,400 people in Wales each year as well as being the 4th highest determinant of biodiversity loss.
However, air quality in Wales is improving through the introduction of legislation enforcing tighter controls on emissions of pollutants from sources such as industry and transport.
We have recruited staff to our team to support us in achieving our net zero 2030 carbon target and the work that they’re doing will contribute to a significant reduction in air pollution from transport.
We’re working on the Welsh Governments Electric Vehicle Charging Strategy which will deliver significant investment in electric vehicle infrastructure and we’re also remitted to deliver the ambitious aim of ensuring that buses and taxis are electric or hydrogen powered by 2028.
Our new cleaner trains will be bi-mode and tri-mode and will run on electric, batteries or diesel and we continue to work with industry partners to look at opportunities for the use of green hydrogen.
Active Travel is a vital part of our plans to create an integrated transport system and our Active Travel Team is growing, with the recruitment of two new members to the team this year. We realise the wider benefits that come about from active travel that help people to keep fit and healthy, and we’re working in partnership with local authorities to maximise active travel opportunities.
All our energy for our offices, depots and stations is 100% renewable and this will be the case for the electric supplied to us to run the trains operating on the new South Wales Metro Lines. We’ve also undertaken a feasibility study to look at how we can generate our own renewable energy in the South East Wales Valleys.
Our new office in Pontypridd has a solar array and we’ll be investing £5 million over the next six years to install renewable technology at suitable stations.
From the start of lockdown, emissions of nitrogen oxides, which can be harmful to health, were almost half the expected levels due to a “significant drop” in vehicle flows, mostly of cars, light vans and buses, with a “clear correlation” between traffic levels and reduced pollution.
We all have a personal responsibility to reduce our contribution to air pollution and provisional analysis of how air quality in Wales has been affected by the coronavirus lockdown demonstrates how working from home, travelling less, opting for public transport and active travel can bring about positive results.