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P R O J E C T  S U M M A R Y

A Clean Air Zone is an area where targeted action is taken to improve air quality, which delivers improved health benefits and supports economic growth.

We are looking at establishing a Clean Air Zone and the potential for a pollution charge in central Cambridge within the existing Air Quality Management Area in the city centre.

A view over Cambridge, showing the urban built environment nestled amongst green trees

If we are to continue to achieve improvements to air quality in central Cambridge and beyond, emissions from all vehicles entering the city will need to be significantly reduced

B E N E F I T S  O F  T H E  P R O J E C T

The benefits of a Clean Air Zone are:

  • reduces public exposure to polluted air and dangerous emissions, including nitrogen dioxide
  • improves the quality of life for businesses and residents, as well as those who pass through
  • less people are affected by health conditions caused by poor air quality, reducing pressure on local health services
  • provides an incentive to use cleaner and active modes of transport, with increased health benefits

Map showing the Air Quality Management Area, inside which is the designated City Centre, and inside that is the restricted vehicle access area and marked pedestrian streets.

Cambridge has an Air Quality Management Area as a result of the annual average level of nitrogen dioxide in the city centre being above the health-based National Air Quality Objective (NAQO) of 40μg per cubic metre. 

Cambridge has an air quality problem broadly the same as similar cities and market towns; older cities and market towns with traffic in the city centre will have poor air quality. Although comparisons with other areas are interesting, the fact remains that we have higher air pollution than we should have in parts of the city.

Cambridge is growing rapidly and an increase in traffic and bus services could easily cause an unacceptable rise in air pollution. Establishing a Clean Air Zone would ensure air quality is maintained as the city grows.

Clean Air Zone Gallery

We are currently researching methods of implementing a Clean Air Zone in Cambridge

A Clean Air Zone could include a pollution charge and potentially restricting access to certain vehicles due to their age or emissions.

The proposed Clean Air Zone would include the trafficked parts of the historic core, the inner ring road and junctions within, and main radial routes into the city.

Clean Air Zones are currently being piloted in five UK cities and The Greater Cambridge Partnership officers will be researching how a similar scheme could work in Cambridge.

G E T  I N V O L V E D 

Residents, businesses and commuters are welcome to get involved with establishing a Clean Air Zone.

Find out more on the get involved page.


The Clean Air Zone Project has an initial budget of £200,000

The budget will be reviewed as detailed measures are determined.

Frequently asked questions

A. As the Clean Air Zone is in early stages of development, details such as who will be affected will be discussed in detail later on in the process.

A. It is proposed that the Clean Air Zone would be within the existing Air Quality Management Area in Cambridge, which includes the trafficked parts of the historic core, the inner ring road.

A: Improvements to air quality were popular requests from individuals and businesses during the summer 2016 engagement on Tackling Peak Time Congestion.  Some areas of Cambridge currently do not meet recommended levels for air pollution and we’re currently exploring the possibility of a Clean Air Zone and restricting some vehicles entering Cambridge due to their age or emissions.

A. A Clean Air Zone would complement other measures in the City Deal to encourage sustainable, green transport. This includes better cycling and pedestrian infrastructure and encouraging the use of cleaner vehicles, including electric and low-emission buses.

A. London has a successful Low Emission Zone (LEZ). Clean Air Zones are currently being piloted in five UK cities and we will be researching how a similar scheme could work in Cambridge.

A. It is estimated that traffic contributes up to 70-90% of air pollution in the city centre.

A. The 2010 COMEAP report on Mortality Effects of Long-Term Exposure to Particulate Air Pollution, estimated 29,000 deaths annually resulted from air pollution from particulates (only), with 47 deaths every year in Cambridge.


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Published on 16 Jun 2017