A project to assess ways of lessening the environmental impact of transport in Aberdeen city centre is set to get under way after clearing a key funding hurdle.
The joint initiative – featuring Aberdeen city council, the regional transport partnership Nestrans and Robert Gordon University – has been approved for European Union (EU) support.
The work will focus on investigating the benefits of a formally designated Low Emission Zone (LEZ) for Aberdeen city centre to help address air quality issues in the area.
Within a geographically-defined LEZ, access by specific polluting vehicles is restricted or deterred, with potentially only low- or zero-emissions vehicles allowed entry.
Nestrans chair and deputy city council leader, Cllr Kevin Stewart, said: ‘The study will look at ways of addressing the issues by, for example, reducing emissions from freight and delivery traffic, enhancing the pedestrian environment, developing park-and-ride facilities and promoting travel awareness. Beyond that, one of the key aims is to reduce city congestion and minimise pollution.’
Academics at Robert Gordon University will be working alongside European partners to develop models for improving levels of carbon emissions in the area.
Robert Gordon University is being represented by Profs Richard Laing and David Gray in the project. Laing said: ‘It is vitally important that we address environmental issues now as the need to reduce carbon emissions in both transport and urban environments is of central importance to sustainability across the whole of Europe.’
The study will also examine opportunities for the creation of a city car club – a ‘pay-as-you-go’ car rental membership scheme – and possible bicycle rental points.
The EU’s Interreg IV programme will match-fund an estimated joint contribution of £175,000 over three years by Nestrans and the city council to fund the Aberdeen project.
It will be part of a wider European initiative entitled CARE North, a multinational scheme that is looking at ways of reducing the impact of pollution and carbon emissions from transport in a number of regions around the North Sea.